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The Interests of Consumers are the Interests of the Human Race

Is it a problem that the taxpayer is not king?


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Xerographica

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A lunch lady over in a Swedish public school was reprimanded for doing her job too well. But not only did she have the audacity to do her job too well...she also had the audacity to summarize the value of capitalism too well...

The food on offer does not always suit all pupils, she explained, and therefore she makes sure there are plenty of vegetables to choose from as well as proteins in the form of chicken, shrimp, or beef patties.​

Right now the schools on offer do not suit all pupils...just like the books on offer do not suit all readers...just like the movies on offer do not suit all watchers...just like the musicians on offer do not suit all listeners...just like the clothes on offer do not suit all the fashionistas...just like the medications on offer do not suit all patients...just like the plants on offer do not suit all horticulturalists...and so on and so on.

As consumers we never want less options. Instead, we always want a larger selection of different things. Why do we want different things? Because we are an extremely heterogeneous bunch. We are a melting pot of diverse perspectives, cultures, preferences, tastes, values, interests, concerns, hopes and dreams. Our amazing diversity is our greatest strength because it leads to a greater abundance of the things we value.

Over 100 years ago Bastiat explained this concept too well...

If we now turn to consider the immediate self-interest of the consumer, we shall find that it is in perfect harmony with the general interest, i.e., with what the well-being of mankind requires. When the buyer goes to the market, he wants to find it abundantly supplied. He wants the seasons to be propitious for all the crops; more and more wonderful inventions to bring a greater number of products and satisfactions within his reach; time and labor to be saved; distances to be wiped out; the spirit of peace and justice to permit lessening the burden of taxes; and tariff walls of every sort to fall. In all these respects, the immediate self-interest of the consumer follows a line parallel to that of the public interest. He may extend his secret wishes to fantastic or absurd lengths; yet they will not cease to be in conformity with the interests of his fellow man. He may wish that food and shelter, roof and hearth, education and morality, security and peace, strength and health, all be his without effort, without toil, and without limit, like the dust of the roads, the water of the stream, the air that surrounds us, and the sunlight that bathes us; and yet the realization of these wishes would in no way conflict with the good of society. - Bastiat, Abundance and Scarcity

The problem is...just like superman...our diversity has a kryptonite. If somebody takes away our freedom to choose...then they'll render our diversity powerless. Without being able to choose how we spend our money...then how can producers know when they are producing something that we find suitable? Without an accurate feedback mechanism then limited resources will be wasted. This is the problem with representative economics.

Right now we elect 538 people to represent the economic interests of 150 million taxpayers in the public sector. In other words...we permit 538 people to spend 1/4 of our nation's revenue in the public sector. That's over $3.5 trillion dollars being spent without an accurate feedback mechanism.

Clearly we don't all agree on how that $3.5 trillion dollars should be spent in the public sector...but that's a good thing. Yet...people think it's a good thing when conservative and liberal representatives set aside their differences to solve the problems that our country faces. Eh? It's a good thing when we force 538 representative to agree on how they spend our money in the public sector?

If our diversity is our greatest strength in the private sector...then why is it a good thing to demolish our diversity in the public sector? How does forcing people, who have very different perspectives, to tackle the same problem from the same angle help anybody? It doesn't. It hurts us all. We all benefit from multiple approaches because it increases the probability that one approach will be successful.

The value of heterogeneous activity...aka hedging our bets...aka not putting all our eggs in the same basket...helps us understand why it would be an improvement to allow taxpayers to choose which congressperson they gave their taxes to and why it would be an exponentially greater improvement to allow taxpayers to choose which government organizations they gave their taxes to.

Bastiat offers an excellent overview...

1. Our economic representatives aren't superior enough to override our choices
2. Public goods, like private goods, are simply acts of exchange
3. The choices of consumers are the driving force behind abundance

1. Economic representatives aren't that superior...

Apparently, then, the legislators and the organizers have received from Heaven an intelligence and virtue that place them beyond and above mankind; if so, let them show their titles to this superiority. - Bastiat​

If our economic representatives were truly superior enough to know better than millions and millions of consumers...then this would be as true in the private sector as it is in the public sector. But if you value the options you do have...then you should know for a fact that this is not true. The options that we have in the private sector are a direct result of our freedom to choose how we spend our money. Take away our spending decisions and our diversity, which is our greatest strength, will be as useless as superman swimming in kryptonite.

2. It doesn't matter whether a good is public or private...it's either worth exchanging your money for...or it isn't...

Thus, considered in themselves, in their own nature, in their normal state, and apart from all abuses, public services are, like private services, purely and simply acts of exchange. - Bastiat​

Public goods are only different from private goods because we want more of them than we believe that the private sector would be able to supply on its own. It's not that a non-profit militia couldn't provide national defense...it's just that most people are relatively certain that it wouldn't provide enough defense. It's not that the non-profit sector doesn't provide welfare...it's just that liberals are relatively certain that it doesn't provide enough welfare. This just proves that the demand for public goods exists. Therefore, the problem is on the supply side. More specifically...the supply would be inadequate because people can free-ride off of other people's contributions to non-profits. We solve this problem by forcing people to pay taxes and by allowing government organizations to produce public goods. But once these steps are taken...it's completely unnecessary and extremely counterproductive to take the additional step of demolishing our diversity by allowing representatives to determine how our taxes should be spent in the public sector.

3. Human flourishing absolutely depends on protecting the interests of consumers...

Treat all economic questions from the viewpoint of the consumer, for the interests of the consumer are the interests of the human race. - Bastiat​

Taxpayers bear the cost of public goods which is why they alone are capable of determining which public goods are worth the cost. Will they find all their options in the public sector to be perfectly suitable? No...of course not. This basic fact will guarantee that taxpayers will support the audacious lunch ladies of the public sector. It will ensure that the most successful approaches will gain funding and failed approaches will lose funding.

Diversity + choice = progress.
 

Jetboogieman

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And yet another thread about one of the most idiotic ideas ever.

I'll tell you what.

We'll come to a compromise.

The present system of taxation stays.

BUT!

Citizens are free to add extra money to whatever departments and programs they want and I'll support that 1000%.
 

Xerographica

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And yet another thread about one of the most idiotic ideas ever.

LOL...seriously...why do you keep reading my threads? I mean...it doesn't bother me one bit...it's just funny.

Is your goal to stamp my threads with your disapproval in the hopes of dissuading others from taking the idea seriously? Or do you just click on the link because you're like an optimistic girl digging through manure certain that she'll find a pony?

If you're going to post in all my threads...then why don't you use the opportunity to counter what "my" people say with what "your" people say? Don't any of "your" people have any arguments that support representative economics? Honestly I looked and couldn't find any modern economic arguments in favor of representative economics. How idiotic could my idea be when there are credible economists who argue against representative economics and no credible economists who argue for it? But please don't let me stop you from proving me wrong.
 

CaptainCourtesy

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Moderator's Warning:
This is now your thread on this topic. All other threads you start on the same topic will be merged here.
 

Jetboogieman

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LOL...seriously...why do you keep reading my threads?

Actually I don't have to, they're all the same.

But please don't let me stop you from proving me wrong.

I and many other people have already proved you wrong.

Quite effectively I might add.

Yet you still persist to post thread after thread trying to push the same idea from different angles.

You're bordering on spamming.

Your idea has not gained any value since you used a bible story or since the aliens invaded.

And you can't say I have to post my refutation again of your idiotic idea again because I stumbled across your blog where I saw you actually posted all the refutations from myself, others on this forum and from other forums.
 

gavinfielder

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The Interests of Consumers are the Interests of the Human Race
You provide a compelling argument, but I think it ignores the worst aspects of humanity.

I don't think you have a problem with replacing the first "interests" with "values" and "consumers" with "people", no?

"The values of people are the interests of the human race"

Now how do you justify, for example, anti-muslim sentiment as being in the interest of the human race, when it will fuel military action against muslim nations?
 

Xerographica

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You provide a compelling argument, but I think it ignores the worst aspects of humanity.

I don't think you have a problem with replacing the first "interests" with "values" and "consumers" with "people", no?

"The values of people are the interests of the human race"

Now how do you justify, for example, anti-muslim sentiment as being in the interest of the human race, when it will fuel military action against muslim nations?

Let's give them the most generous treatment by treating them like Noah. Noah voiced his opinion that the world was going to be destroyed in a flood. With great conviction he told the people that there was a clear and present danger...yet they mocked him and scoffed at the very idea. Yet...they didn't stop him from building a boat. Even when animals from all over the world started boarding the boat of their own volition...the critic's skepticism was not dampened. By the time their skepticism was very dampened by the rising flood waters...the doors had already closed and entry was no longer an option.

Let's say that many reasonable people are genuinely concerned that Islamic Fundamentalists present a clear and present danger to our country. Do they have credible evidence? That would be up to taxpayers to decide. Who are taxpayers? They are scientists, lawyers, doctors, engineers, professors, architects, business owners and so on. In other words...they are people with reasonably decent critical thinking skills. This means that they will generally ask you to cite your sources if you tell them them to spend their money on the construction of a very large boat. Same thing if you tell them to give their taxes to the DoD.

The only time you're going to convince a random taxpayer to give you their money with no questions asked...is if you're holding a gun to their head. Well...we force taxpayers to pay taxes...but we're really doing ourselves a huge disservice by preventing them from withholding their taxes from government organizations that fail to provide solid answers to the questions that they ask.

It's kinda like Wikipedia. You can add the most obviously false and ludicrous statement to any article you want. How long will your statement go unchallenged? That depends on the article. If the topic is extremely esoteric than it might be a while before somebody asks you to substantiate your claim. But the subject of war with Iran is not an extremely esoteric subject. The taxpayers who believe it's a priority will make the effort to distinguish between absurd claims and substantiated claims. The rest of the taxpayers will either allocate their taxes to whatever public goods concern them or they'll just give their taxes to congress.

Are you going to tell taxpayers that their priorities are wrong? Why make the effort to persuade them unless you believe that you benefit from doing so? The more solid and credible your evidence is...the greater the chances that you'll succeed in persuading them to change their priorities.

Right now I'm just like Noah. I'm building pragmatarianism like Noah built his boat. Noah had his skeptics just like I have my skeptics. Jetboogieman is certain that pragmatarianism is one of the stupidest ideas ever. Even though I'm very confident he's wrong...I would never force him to board my boat. Yet, he believes there's nothing wrong with forcing taxpayers to board bogus boats. How can that be right? He's a skeptic who doesn't appreciate the value of skepticism, doubt and disbelief.

The biggest man-made catastrophes throughout history were a direct result of people being forced to board bogus boats. Every single war was a direct result of people being forced to board bogus boats. When people like Jetboogieman fail to perceive the danger of forcing people to board bogus boats...then it's clearly and very painfully evident that we have not inoculated ourselves against future man-made catastrophes. People still don't get it...despite a long history littered with horrific examples.

It's doubtful that I can show Jetboogieman the connection between tolerance and progress. But if we ourselves fail to see the connection between tolerance and progress...then how can we manage to show it to the people in the Middle East?

Honestly I don't know where the difficulty is. Tolerance allows for heterogeneous activity and heterogeneous activity leads to progress. Tolerance means that we should give taxpayers the freedom to choose how they spend their taxes in the public sector. This will lead to heterogeneous activity...which means that we'll tackle problems from multiple angles...which will increase the chances of discovering solutions...which will lead to greater progress. So why isn't it self-evident that forcing people to board bogus boats does not lead to greater progress?
 

KevinKohler

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Let's give them the most generous treatment by treating them like Noah. Noah voiced his opinion that the world was going to be destroyed in a flood. With great conviction he told the people that there was a clear and present danger...yet they mocked him and scoffed at the very idea. Yet...they didn't stop him from building a boat. Even when animals from all over the world started boarding the boat of their own volition...the critic's skepticism was not dampened. By the time their skepticism was very dampened by the rising flood waters...the doors had already closed and entry was no longer an option.

Let's say that many reasonable people are genuinely concerned that Islamic Fundamentalists present a clear and present danger to our country. Do they have credible evidence? That would be up to taxpayers to decide. Who are taxpayers? They are scientists, lawyers, doctors, engineers, professors, architects, business owners and so on. In other words...they are people with reasonably decent critical thinking skills. This means that they will generally ask you to cite your sources if you tell them them to spend their money on the construction of a very large boat. Same thing if you tell them to give their taxes to the DoD.

The only time you're going to convince a random taxpayer to give you their money with no questions asked...is if you're holding a gun to their head. Well...we force taxpayers to pay taxes...but we're really doing ourselves a huge disservice by preventing them from withholding their taxes from government organizations that fail to provide solid answers to the questions that they ask.

It's kinda like Wikipedia. You can add the most obviously false and ludicrous statement to any article you want. How long will your statement go unchallenged? That depends on the article. If the topic is extremely esoteric than it might be a while before somebody asks you to substantiate your claim. But the subject of war with Iran is not an extremely esoteric subject. The taxpayers who believe it's a priority will make the effort to distinguish between absurd claims and substantiated claims. The rest of the taxpayers will either allocate their taxes to whatever public goods concern them or they'll just give their taxes to congress.

Are you going to tell taxpayers that their priorities are wrong? Why make the effort to persuade them unless you believe that you benefit from doing so? The more solid and credible your evidence is...the greater the chances that you'll succeed in persuading them to change their priorities.

Right now I'm just like Noah. I'm building pragmatarianism like Noah built his boat. Noah had his skeptics just like I have my skeptics. Jetboogieman is certain that pragmatarianism is one of the stupidest ideas ever. Even though I'm very confident he's wrong...I would never force him to board my boat. Yet, he believes there's nothing wrong with forcing taxpayers to board bogus boats. How can that be right? He's a skeptic who doesn't appreciate the value of skepticism, doubt and disbelief.

The biggest man-made catastrophes throughout history were a direct result of people being forced to board bogus boats. Every single war was a direct result of people being forced to board bogus boats. When people like Jetboogieman fail to perceive the danger of forcing people to board bogus boats...then it's clearly and very painfully evident that we have not inoculated ourselves against future man-made catastrophes. People still don't get it...despite a long history littered with horrific examples.

It's doubtful that I can show Jetboogieman the connection between tolerance and progress. But if we ourselves fail to see the connection between tolerance and progress...then how can we manage to show it to the people in the Middle East?

Honestly I don't know where the difficulty is. Tolerance allows for heterogeneous activity and heterogeneous activity leads to progress. Tolerance means that we should give taxpayers the freedom to choose how they spend their taxes in the public sector. This will lead to heterogeneous activity...which means that we'll tackle problems from multiple angles...which will increase the chances of discovering solutions...which will lead to greater progress. So why isn't it self-evident that forcing people to board bogus boats does not lead to greater progress?

Because it ignores the simple fact that people are short sighted. You believe that self interest is all that is needed to determine the allocation of taxes. You're dead wrong. And I, for one, am not willing to embrace the utter devastation, or more like, force my children to embrace the utter devastation, that would be the end result of such a policy. Yes, people act out of self interest. But so too do they act in short sightedness. Have you never heard the expression, hind sight is 20/20? The implication being, of course, that foresight is anything but.
 

Xerographica

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Because it ignores the simple fact that people are short sighted. You believe that self interest is all that is needed to determine the allocation of taxes. You're dead wrong. And I, for one, am not willing to embrace the utter devastation, or more like, force my children to embrace the utter devastation, that would be the end result of such a policy. Yes, people act out of self interest. But so too do they act in short sightedness. Have you never heard the expression, hind sight is 20/20? The implication being, of course, that foresight is anything but.

Errr...if people are shortsighted...then what does representative economics solve?

Personally...I liked it better before when you offered examples that clearly demonstrate that you have no idea how the invisible hand works...

As for taxation, my answer is NO. People are illogical. They tend only to see the things right in front of them, and lack vision. Someone with no license, for instance, will likely not want to put any of his money towards roads, only to realize down the timeline a bit that the pizza guy can't get to his house without that road...and in most cases, we don't miss something till it's gone...and in some of are tax cases, by the time something is gone, it's TOO LATE to fix it cheaply. - KevinKohler
Context: ...

Really? The owner of the pizza joint wouldn't realize that poorly maintained roads were cutting into his profit margin until it was too late? What was he spending his taxes on anyways? Things that weren't relevant to his bottom line? How do business owners manage to turn a profit if they fail to pay for all their necessary inputs?

Good thing I had the foresight to read Lachmann a while ago...

All wealth consists of capital assets which, in one way or another, embody or at least ultimately reflect the material resources of production, the sources of valuable output. All output is produced by human labor with the help of combinations of such resources. For this purpose resources have to be used in certain combinations; complementarity is of the essence of resource use. The modes of this complementarity are in no way “given” to the entrepreneurs who make, initiate, and carry out production plans. There is in reality no such thing as A production function. On the contrary, the task of the entrepreneur consists precisely in finding, in a world of perpetual change, which combination of resources will yield, in the conditions of today, a maximum surplus of output over input value, and in guessing which will do so in the probable conditions of tomorrow, when output values, cost of complementary input, and technology all will have changed. - Ludwig M. Lachmann, The Market Economy and the Distribution of Wealth

Taxpayers, given the fact that they are all gainfully employed, are all about individual foresight...and so was Bastiat...

If the socialists mean that under extraordinary circumstances, for urgent cases, the state should set aside some resources to assist certain unfortunate people, to help them adjust to changing conditions, we will, of course, agree. This is done now; we desire that it be done better. There is, however, a point on this road that must not be passed; it is the point where governmental foresight would step in to replace individual foresight and thus destroy it. - Bastiat, Justice and Fraternity​

The market is the only way to weed out shortsighted people...which is exactly why we should allow taxpayers to use their taxes to weed out shortsighted leaders of government organizations. That is the accurate feedback mechanism which you must have skipped over in my original post.
 

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Let's say that many reasonable people are genuinely concerned that Islamic Fundamentalists present a clear and present danger to our country. Do they have credible evidence? That would be up to taxpayers to decide. Who are taxpayers? They are scientists, lawyers, doctors, engineers, professors, architects, business owners and so on. In other words...they are people with reasonably decent critical thinking skills. This means that they will generally ask you to cite your sources if you tell them them to spend their money on the construction of a very large boat. Same thing if you tell them to give their taxes to the DoD.
That's not true. It's simply not true. Look at the evidence in current popular opinion. It's not based on critical thinking, it's based on fear.

Accurate feedback machine? Apply the same to the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Was the cost of learning that ethical lesson worth it?
 

TNAR

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Very nice! I certainly don't agree with everything you said, but this was certainly one of the more perceptive pieces that I have read on here.

gavinfielder said:
You provide a compelling argument, but I think it ignores the worst aspects of humanity.

How does representative government take into account the worst aspects of humanity? As Bastiat correctly noted nearly 200 years ago, politicians are every bit as human--and therefore susceptible to human behavior--as the rest of us. How ignorant and absurd of us to believe that government can somehow be more benevolent and moral than the rest of humanity!

Xerographica said:
Honestly I don't know where the difficulty is. Tolerance allows for heterogeneous activity and heterogeneous activity leads to progress. ... So why isn't it self-evident that forcing people to board bogus boats does not lead to greater progress?

I think it all boils down to education. Bar none, the predominant ideology in most states is one of paternalism and patriotism. Everyone ignorantly believes that they are somehow better than everyone else because of where they happened to be born. This is force-fed to children and reinforced throughout our entire lives and just about takes a miracle to see through the fog. Take the discussion I had a few weeks ago about protectionism, for example. It is not difficult to see that an individual family or town is infinitely better off with free trade and open borders with its neighbors, but for some unknown reason this logic does not hold true for nations? Incredulous (and the unfortunate result of poor education).
 

Xerographica

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That's not true. It's simply not true. Look at the evidence in current popular opinion. It's not based on critical thinking, it's based on fear.

Honey Boo Boo represents popular opinion. But taxpayers are a very specific subset of voters. Do you really not know any taxpayers? All of the judges, doctors and professors I know have good critical thinking skills...and none of them have any anti-Muslim sentiment. Neither the liberal nor the libertarian blogs I subscribe to have ever once posted anything even remotely resembling anti-Muslim sentiment. The majority of Germans voting for Hitler is NOT the same thing as German taxpayers choosing to give him enough of their hard earned taxes to go tilting at windmills.

Accurate feedback machine? Apply the same to the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Was the cost of learning that ethical lesson worth it?

WWII never would have occurred if German taxpayers had been allowed to directly allocate their taxes. This is simply because the opportunity costs of war are too high. If you truly want to understand economics then invest some time in thoroughly familiarizing yourself with the opportunity cost concept. For most taxpayers it's just not worth sacrificing the things they care about...public education, public healthcare, infrastructure, etc...to fund attacking imaginary threats.
 

gavinfielder

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Honey Boo Boo represents popular opinion. But taxpayers are a very specific subset of voters. Do you really not know any taxpayers? All of the judges, doctors and professors I know have good critical thinking skills...and none of them have any anti-Muslim sentiment. Neither the liberal nor the libertarian blogs I subscribe to have ever once posted anything even remotely resembling anti-Muslim sentiment. The majority of Germans voting for Hitler is NOT the same thing as German taxpayers choosing to give him enough of their hard earned taxes to go tilting at windmills.
...Huh. Ok. I hadn't considered that.
That lies on the assumption that taxpayers must be educated. That could be the case now. We'll go with that assumption for now.

WWII never would have occurred if German taxpayers had been allowed to directly allocate their taxes. This is simply because the opportunity costs of war are too high. If you truly want to understand economics then invest some time in thoroughly familiarizing yourself with the opportunity cost concept. For most taxpayers it's just not worth sacrificing the things they care about...public education, public healthcare, infrastructure, etc...to fund attacking imaginary threats.
Ok.

And if the wealthy elite want to fund a war in order to destabilize another country for monetary gain... I guess that's their own representation in the public good.

Hm.

I think I'll have to go with this:
I think it all boils down to education. Bar none, the predominant ideology in most states is one of paternalism and patriotism. Everyone ignorantly believes that they are somehow better than everyone else because of where they happened to be born. This is force-fed to children and reinforced throughout our entire lives and just about takes a miracle to see through the fog. Take the discussion I had a few weeks ago about protectionism, for example. It is not difficult to see that an individual family or town is infinitely better off with free trade and open borders with its neighbors, but for some unknown reason this logic does not hold true for nations? Incredulous (and the unfortunate result of poor education).



What if education funding was mandatory? If the system relies on the taxpaying body being educated, shouldn't it be so?
 

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And yet another thread about one of the most idiotic ideas ever.
One of the rules for being a successful one-trick pony is at least to have a good trick.
 

Xerographica

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...Huh. Ok. I hadn't considered that.
That lies on the assumption that taxpayers must be educated. That could be the case now. We'll go with that assumption for now.

Taxpayers get the balance of inputs right enough.

And if the wealthy elite want to fund a war in order to destabilize another country for monetary gain... I guess that's their own representation in the public good.

Destabilize is the opposite of stabilize. Stability is all about balance...which again, depends on the right combination and quantity of inputs. National defense is an input...we need just enough of it to feel secure in our own homes. But if there's too much national defense then we end up with a shortage of other essential inputs...which leads to instability. Even Hitler understood that balance is important to most people...

However well balanced the general pattern of a nation's life ought to be, there must at particular times be certain disturbances of the balance at the expense of other less vital tasks. If we do not succeed in bringing the German army as rapidly as possible to the rank of premier army in the world...then Germany will be lost! - Adolf Hitler, 1936​

"at the expense of other less vital tasks"...that's the opportunity cost concept. Hitler was saying that it WAS worth it to sacrifice all the other inputs in order to fund the premier army in the world. But German taxpayers did not have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether it was worth it.

German taxpayers were certainly not as heterogeneous as our taxpayers...but they were heterogeneous enough where they wouldn't have sacrificed all the other essential inputs in order to fund more national defense than what was absolutely necessary. This is simply because people who fail to get the right balance of inputs are not taxpayers.

Here's the passage from Lachmann that I shared earlier...

On the contrary, the task of the entrepreneur consists precisely in finding, in a world of perpetual change, which combination of resources will yield, in the conditions of today, a maximum surplus of output over input value, and in guessing which will do so in the probable conditions of tomorrow, when output values, cost of complementary input, and technology all will have changed. - Ludwig M. Lachmann​


What if education funding was mandatory? If the system relies on the taxpaying body being educated, shouldn't it be so?

Education is a wonderful thing...but we all understand the concept of balance...and we all struggle to get the balance right. Education is just one of many important inputs. If we make it mandatory then we're imposing our priorities on others...which pulls the rug out from our greatest strength...diversity. Once we apply our diversity to the public sector...then resources will be used far more productively and people's educational opportunities will greatly expand.

We give people opportunities...but we should never force them to take them...otherwise...how do we sound any different than Hitler?

However well balanced the general pattern of a nation's life ought to be, there must at particular times be certain disturbances of the balance at the expense of other less vital tasks. If we do not succeed in bringing the American people as rapidly as possible to the rank of the most educated people in the world...then America will be lost!​

We inoculate ourselves against future Hitlers by recognizing the value of giving people the freedom to choose how they spend their money. The value of freedom and tolerance is that it allows our diversity to guide us to the prosperity maximizing combination of inputs. Destroying diversity by taking away people's freedom to choose how they spend their money leads us away from prosperity.
 

Xerographica

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On the same topic of...pragmatarianism? So I can start an unlimited amount of threads on capitalism like RGacky3 starts an unlimited amount of threads on socialism? ...
 

CaptainCourtesy

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On the same topic of...pragmatarianism? So I can start an unlimited amount of threads on capitalism like RGacky3 starts an unlimited amount of threads on socialism? ...

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Errr...if people are shortsighted...then what does representative economics solve?

Personally...I liked it better before when you offered examples that clearly demonstrate that you have no idea how the invisible hand works...

As for taxation, my answer is NO. People are illogical. They tend only to see the things right in front of them, and lack vision. Someone with no license, for instance, will likely not want to put any of his money towards roads, only to realize down the timeline a bit that the pizza guy can't get to his house without that road...and in most cases, we don't miss something till it's gone...and in some of are tax cases, by the time something is gone, it's TOO LATE to fix it cheaply. - KevinKohler
Context: ...

Really? The owner of the pizza joint wouldn't realize that poorly maintained roads were cutting into his profit margin until it was too late? What was he spending his taxes on anyways? Things that weren't relevant to his bottom line? How do business owners manage to turn a profit if they fail to pay for all their necessary inputs?

Good thing I had the foresight to read Lachmann a while ago...

All wealth consists of capital assets which, in one way or another, embody or at least ultimately reflect the material resources of production, the sources of valuable output. All output is produced by human labor with the help of combinations of such resources. For this purpose resources have to be used in certain combinations; complementarity is of the essence of resource use. The modes of this complementarity are in no way “given” to the entrepreneurs who make, initiate, and carry out production plans. There is in reality no such thing as A production function. On the contrary, the task of the entrepreneur consists precisely in finding, in a world of perpetual change, which combination of resources will yield, in the conditions of today, a maximum surplus of output over input value, and in guessing which will do so in the probable conditions of tomorrow, when output values, cost of complementary input, and technology all will have changed. - Ludwig M. Lachmann, The Market Economy and the Distribution of Wealth

Taxpayers, given the fact that they are all gainfully employed, are all about individual foresight...and so was Bastiat...

If the socialists mean that under extraordinary circumstances, for urgent cases, the state should set aside some resources to assist certain unfortunate people, to help them adjust to changing conditions, we will, of course, agree. This is done now; we desire that it be done better. There is, however, a point on this road that must not be passed; it is the point where governmental foresight would step in to replace individual foresight and thus destroy it. - Bastiat, Justice and Fraternity​

The market is the only way to weed out shortsighted people...which is exactly why we should allow taxpayers to use their taxes to weed out shortsighted leaders of government organizations. That is the accurate feedback mechanism which you must have skipped over in my original post.

I am perfectly aware of how the invisible hand of the market is supposed to work. We've been over this before, and kudos to you for caring enough to dig and find my previous words on the subject. Simply put, the invisible hand is determinism, as applied to economics. And it's a rather large leap of faith that you are demanding of 300 million americans to accept, in order to make your idea viable. Now, as to my previous words, you think that the small business owner is prescient enough to recognize that he needs roads, in order to do business? You must either be young, or have never worked for any small business, lol. Well, I HAVE. And I can tell you, small business owners are NOT the super heroes of Atlus Shrugged. They are fallible, and beset by the same problems all the rest of us have. Short sighted, self centered. These are NOT the aspects or traits that lead to a large and sustainable society, I'm afraid to say.

Rather than retread old ground, though, I think I'll open up an entirely NEW can of worms, lol. You SEEM to be a libertarian. Is this so?
 

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How does representative government take into account the worst aspects of humanity? As Bastiat correctly noted nearly 200 years ago, politicians are every bit as human--and therefore susceptible to human behavior--as the rest of us. How ignorant and absurd of us to believe that government can somehow be more benevolent and moral than the rest of humanity!
I'll take a stab. But it could get lengthy. I am verbose when dealing with subjects that are hard to put into words. Ah. You're favorite thing, eh, Tnar? FEELINGS, lol. Anyway, that joke aside...

A politician is no more or less human than any of the rest of us. Hell, recently, I'd put them in the SUB human category, for many of them are often all TOO willing to compromise the majority of us in order to line their own pockets, or at the least, the pockets of the FEW. At BEST, they are more concerned with getting elected again, than they are with actually serving anything resembling "the public good". That's ANOTHER concept I find that libertarians find distasteful. I'll get to that in a minute, however. So, with all of these negatives to politicians, why have them? Well, we have this system on the HOPE of getting good people into office, people who are there because they genuinely want to serve the community they represent. How is this HOPE any better than the concept of self governance, and therefor the self allocating of taxes (to be referred to as funding, since it would then not be compulsory)? Simply, really. Politicians are individuals, but we ALL have a say, a HOLD on them. Think of them as avatars, but with many controllers, rather than just one. In an ideal situation, this ALLOWS the invisible hand, as it were, to shine out, but MUCH more quickly, and with far fewer casualties. Rather than go helter skelter with taxes flying in every which way based on the whims of the millions of individual tax payers, which would likely result in the underfunding of most everything each tax payer wants to fund, we would have the IDEAS and DESIRES of those tax payers fly...into one filter, wherein budgets and plans can be determined, based on the numbers of supporters for those ideas (think petitions and the like). Now, do SOME folks end up funding things they don't want to? Of course. Now we get into the idea of the public good. And, more to the point, compromise. Compromise is the basis of society. Without it, no society. In order to HAVE society, SOME must compromise, be that in the form of tax dollars for things they maybe don't need (think public safety nets and the like), or in the form of limited freedom (think laws). And since, in a HEALTHY society, each member would be both concerned for, and vocal about said health of said society, the general desires and needs of that society get met by the public official, since he/she is the receiver and filter of all those voices. I say HEALTHY society, because one can't view our own as an example of this. You can call this unrealistic, or wonderland, or dreamworld, or whatever, but I counter that it's not less fantastic than pretty much every libertarian societal idea I've ever heard.



I think it all boils down to education. Bar none, the predominant ideology in most states is one of paternalism and patriotism. Everyone ignorantly believes that they are somehow better than everyone else because of where they happened to be born. This is force-fed to children and reinforced throughout our entire lives and just about takes a miracle to see through the fog.
I agree with this, to an extent. Ask someone born in a trailer park in Greer, SC if they are better than someone born in Riverside, in a nice house, in a nice community, by virtue of their home, and they will likely say NO. But ask them if they are better than someone, most ANYONE, from NORTH Carolina, by virtue of being from South Caroline, and you're like to get an answer that goes into detail about the back woods, gap toothed, hill billy bastards that live in NC, and thank GOD they are not them, lol.

Take the discussion I had a few weeks ago about protectionism, for example. It is not difficult to see that an individual family or town is infinitely better off with free trade and open borders with its neighbors, but for some unknown reason this logic does not hold true for nations? Incredulous (and the unfortunate result of poor education).
It doesn't hold true for nations because it's perfectly possible, and perfectly easy, to drive to the next town for work.
 

Xerographica

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I am perfectly aware of how the invisible hand of the market is supposed to work. We've been over this before, and kudos to you for caring enough to dig and find my previous words on the subject.

No no no. I didn't have to spend my limited time digging to find your previous words on the subject. This is simply because I had the individual foresight to put all the same type of responses on one page...Unglamorous but Important Things.

Now, as to my previous words, you think that the small business owner is prescient enough to recognize that he needs roads, in order to do business? You must either be young, or have never worked for any small business, lol. Well, I HAVE. And I can tell you, small business owners are NOT the super heroes of Atlus Shrugged. They are fallible, and beset by the same problems all the rest of us have. Short sighted, self centered. These are NOT the aspects or traits that lead to a large and sustainable society, I'm afraid to say.

I've worked in the non-profit sector, the for-profit sector AND the public sector. The difference is painfully clear. In the private sector, when it comes to individual foresight...the market punishes those who lack it and rewards those who have it. The same thing is certainly not true in the public sector.

Failures in the private sector have consequences that don't exist in the public sector. When a private organization makes a mistake it loses customers and donors. When a government organization makes a mistake it gets more funding.

In the private sector we all use our hard earned money to indicate who our heroes are. Why wouldn't you want to find out who our heroes are in the public sector? Why wouldn't you want taxpayers to use their taxes to indicate who their heroes are? Why shouldn't taxpayers have the freedom to financially support their heroes in the public sector?

Rather than retread old ground, though, I think I'll open up an entirely NEW can of worms, lol. You SEEM to be a libertarian. Is this so?

A libertarian is not fundamentally different than a liberal. A libertarian says that the government is good at doing A, B and C while a liberal says that the government is good at doing A through Z. But neither of them are willing to allow taxpayers to use their taxes to reveal what the government is truly good at doing.

I'm a pragmatarian. I'm not that smart but I'm smart enough to understand that whether an organization is good at something can only be determined by consumers. Because the alternative would be to allow producers themselves to determine whether they are good at doing something. And that would be completely idiotic. Supply that is not guided by demand is nothing more than waste. And demand without spending decisions is NOT demand. It's just somebody not willing to put their own money where their mouth is. Allowing lies to determine supply is the opposite of progress.
 

Xerographica

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I and many other people have already proved you wrong.

Heh, no you haven't. All you keep saying is that it's a good idea to put the cart before the horse. When it comes to economics...demand guides supply. If demand does not guide supply...then you have the public sector...which is where economics does not work...which is why we experience economic problems.

Quite effectively I might add.

You effectively proved that it's a good idea to put the cart before the horse? So why don't we have representative economics in the private sector?

Yet you still persist to post thread after thread trying to push the same idea from different angles.

I mean...it's economics. We either use limited resources productively...we either produce things that people value enough to spend their own money on....or we don't. If you don't understand economics from one angle...then that doesn't mean that you're incapable of understanding economics...it just means that I failed to pick the right angle.

You're bordering on spamming.

Yet you find value in reading every single one of my threads. Don't you know that economics is all about actions speaking louder than words?

Your idea has not gained any value since you used a bible story or since the aliens invaded.

Therefore...you should have to buy it? Or...you shouldn't have to buy it? Why should this basic economic concept be any different in the public sector? Why shouldn't you have the freedom to choose what you spend your taxes on in the public sector just like you have the freedom to choose which products/services/ideas you buy in the private sector?

How many different angles should it really take for me to show you something that's right under your nose? Your preferences matter to the outcome of private goods because you can choose how you spend your money in the private sector. Your preferences do not matter to the outcome of public goods because you can not choose how you spend your taxes in the public sector.

If congress knows your preferences better than you do...then why not consult them before you buy a pizza or a car or a house? Why not consult them before you decide whether or not to read my next thread? Why not pray to them every night before you go to sleep? Don't expect me to do the same. I don't believe in your gods. I've seen them on TV...and I've met them in person. Trust me...they don't even know you exist. I know you better than they do!!! If I had the opportunity to spend my taxes I WOULD think of you...I promise! Of course it would be along the lines of..."I'm really going to stick it to Jetboogieman by giving too much money to NASA. Then...one day he'll wake up on Mars and curse me for overfunding NASA."

And you can't say I have to post my refutation again of your idiotic idea again because I stumbled across your blog where I saw you actually posted all the refutations from myself, others on this forum and from other forums.

You stumbled on Unglamorous but Important Things? Hehe...you really don't get it? All those responses are written with YOU in mind!!! YOU YOU YOU. They are written with ME in mind!!! We're the OTHER people that THEY are talking about. THEY are the OTHER people that THEY disparage. I might as well look in the mirror and say, "That guy doesn't have enough information to make an informed decision." If that's true then why wouldn't I just give my taxes to congress? If I have $100,000 of my taxes to spend in the public sector...then why wouldn't I make the effort to figure out which government organization is going to give me the most bang for my buck? Taxpayers are the people in our society that DO make the effort to research their spending decisions. If they didn't then they wouldn't be taxpayers.
 

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Xerographica;1061015547]No no no. I didn't have to spend my limited time digging to find your previous words on the subject. This is simply because I had the individual foresight to put all the same type of responses on one page...Unglamorous but Important Things.
I actually had one of those when the "defend Ron Paul from baseless attacks" time rolls around, lol.

I've worked in the non-profit sector, the for-profit sector AND the public sector. The difference is painfully clear. In the private sector, when it comes to individual foresight...the market punishes those who lack it and rewards those who have it. The same thing is certainly not true in the public sector.
You'll never hear me disagree about that. What HAPPENS to those in the private market who make poor decisions, or lack foresight?
Failures in the private sector have consequences that don't exist in the public sector. When a private organization makes a mistake it loses customers and donors. When a government organization makes a mistake it gets more funding.
I get that, but this isn't about private vs public, in my opinion. This is about me smearing the good name and word of all the small business owners out there...the actual tax payers. Which is to say, I simply don't trust them; in fact, I trust them even LESS with the decisions of allocating tax dollars to public services than I do public officials.
In the private sector we all use our hard earned money to indicate who our heroes are. Why wouldn't you want to find out who our heroes are in the public sector? Why wouldn't you want taxpayers to use their taxes to indicate who their heroes are? Why shouldn't taxpayers have the freedom to financially support their heroes in the public sector?
Because there's a **** ton of heroes out there that no one knows about, that no one CARES about. But when the funding for THOSE heroes dries up, civilization as we know it runs like a, old car on bad gas up hill.



A libertarian is not fundamentally different than a liberal. A libertarian says that the government is good at doing A, B and C while a liberal says that the government is good at doing A through Z. But neither of them are willing to allow taxpayers to use their taxes to reveal what the government is truly good at doing.
Not the ones I've met. From what I've seen libertarians believe that the government is not good at doing anything, other than violating people's rights.
I'm a pragmatarian. I'm not that smart but I'm smart enough to understand that whether an organization is good at something can only be determined by consumers.
This assumes that an organization HAS consumers. That's my issue with people who view the world as being simply one giant market of consumption. It's not. Human civilization is an organism, and in order to function, it must do more than simply consume. And if it does more than simply consume, then CONSUMERS are not the end all be all of determining success.
Because the alternative would be to allow producers themselves to determine whether they are good at doing something. And that would be completely idiotic.
I agree. That's why we have elections. The producers, in this case, elected public officials, labor at things that DON'T always get consumed in the tradition since on the market. It's why we have them in the first place...to more effectively deliver those services that would be naturally...problematic for the end customer (the public) should the private sector be the one to provide
Supply that is not guided by demand is nothing more than waste.
True.
And demand without spending decisions is NOT demand. It's just somebody not willing to put their own money where their mouth is. Allowing lies to determine supply is the opposite of progress.
Most people never make a single spending decision for the public services they receive, unless you would count voting for politician x over y.

I would wager than an ITEMIZED tax bill would open up eyes. Which is something I would LOVE to see. How much taxes were withheld, and where every single cent was spent. Course, this would require the divulging of too many company secrets, so it will never happen. You see....what the american public doesn't know is exactly what MAKES them the american public. That's from Tommy Boy.
 

Cardinal Fang

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Failures in the private sector have consequences that don't exist in the public sector. When a private organization makes a mistake it loses customers and donors. When a government organization makes a mistake it gets more funding.
Straight out of the Big Book of Made-Up Right-Wing Fairy Tales. What were the "consequences" of the Edsel, New Coke, or the Apple Newton? What were the consequences of Bhopal? The Exxon-Valdez? Deepwater Horizon?

Back here in the real world, all programs make mistakes. None of them in any existing or imagineable sector will be perfect. When the actual question is what happens to public programs when they don't provide value anymore, the actual answer is that they end up being defunded and done away with. Staff involved are transferred, offered other opportunities, or RIF'd. The same thing can happen in the private sector, although in many cases, a profitable conglomerate can carry a non-performing division for decades before actually doing anything about it.

In the private sector we all use our hard earned money to indicate who our heroes are.
Could you possibly be just a teensy bit more of a pollyanna? That would be so nice.

A libertarian is not fundamentally different than a liberal.
A libertarian is most likely just a rebranded neocon seeking to run away from the implications of having voted twice for George W Bush.

...a liberal says that the government is good at doing A through Z.
On account of the overwhelming evidence confirming it, liberals believe that government can and/or must serve as an agent for good. Some other people -- based on nothing at all -- believe that government itself is part of the problem.

Supply that is not guided by demand is nothing more than waste. And demand without spending decisions is NOT demand. It's just somebody not willing to put their own money where their mouth is. Allowing lies to determine supply is the opposite of progress.
First-year pie-in-the-skyism. Markets are a tool, and as most of them are corrupt and horribly imperfect, the solutions they come up with in response to what are only foolishly taken to be pure economic signals need to be carefully watched, reviewed, and where warranted, invalidated in whole or in part.
 

Cardinal Fang

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I mean...it's economics. We either use limited resources productively...we either produce things that people value enough to spend their own money on....or we don't.
You don't list any of the assumptions about markets or consumers or producers that are necessary for your theories to have even a ghost of a sliver of a prayer of being functional. Is that because you don't know what they are or because you do but recognize that revealing them would relegate your theories to the dustbin of pointless ruminations?

Why should this basic economic concept be any different in the public sector?
For one thing, because of indivisible goods and services and others for which no discrete point of sale exists around which any form of market could be built. Then there is the matter of natural monopolies or quasi-monopolies wherein heavy regulation is required for efficiency if not outright nationalization. And there is the matter of simple private sector failure, one example of which would be so-called orphan-drugs that cure the illnesses of people afflicted with something rare enough that not enough profits can be made to justify producing those drugs. Without government, such people are simply left to die from their entirely curable diseases. Markets, after all, don't care one whit if they do.

Why shouldn't you have the freedom to choose what you spend your taxes on in the public sector just like you have the freedom to choose which products/services/ideas you buy in the private sector?
Only a fool vests so much confidence in himself as to be able to judge the utility of an embassy in a city he has never heard of as easily as he does the utility of a bar of soap. Listen to th crap that people whine over as "government waste" simply because people like Tom Coburn or CAGW have told them to. Research into the sex life of zebra mussels? Putting shrimp on little tiny treadmills? Who but some useless government bureaucrat could be so dumb as to use your hard-earned tax dollars to fund anything as idiotic as that?

Of course most people don't know that zebra mussels cause hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage annually to municipal water systems in the northern Mississippi valley and Great Lakes areas and unknown damages for addtional scrubbing of hulls, docks, buoys and the like that become encrusted with them. Understanding the mating systems of these invasive pests would open doors to controlling their populations and impacts. Similalry, ocean currents have been bringing new forms of bacteria to major portions of US shrimping waters. Shrimp depend on their quick reactions and speed to escape predators. Knowing the degree to which exposure to these new bacteria may reduce shrimp mobility would tell us a lot about whether steps need to be taken in order to protect shrimpers from potential damage as they seek to compete with major shrimp exporters such as China and India.

Instead of listening to experts who understand the issues involved in matters such as these, you want to take a poll among a bunch of absolute hacks and hayseeds who have not got even the first clue as to the background actually involved to cast the final vote on such funding. That is an absolutely terrible idea.
 

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Instead of listening to experts who understand the issues involved in matters such as these, you want to take a poll among a bunch of absolute hacks and hayseeds who have not got even the first clue as to the background actually involved to cast the final vote on such funding. That is an absolutely terrible idea.

Unfortunately, your argument is rather convincing.
 
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