The problem Niklas has is that discussing taxation moves him out of his libertarian comfort zone. My view on libertarianism is that it is a fantasy based on survival concepts that only make sense in a depopulated world. Libertarianism is thus incompatible with civilization, where one must share the planet with hordes of other people, many of whom never bathe nor brush their teeth.
I find it very hard to discuss taxes. I actually don’t like it, when I have to do it in person, or on a blog…it rankles me into a defensive mode immediately. Let met explain.
I’m a right-wing, mostly libertarian. I’m for efficient taxation to satisfy social goals…and that is the problem. Social goals are always changing. Unlike railing against stupid market inefficiencies like barbers licenses and land use, this involves a revenue calculation, and not one that is straightforward.
Back when I was a “wet behind the ears” libertarian person, I took the efficacy of “starve the beast” seriously. But that was before I learned how the world works. It is entirely obvious that starve the beast can only work in the most excruciating circumstances…and I don’t want humans to have to deal with pain, I just don’t want them to have to deal with stupid government.
Niklas confronts the essence of the libertarian problem: "But that was before I learned how the world works." But stops short of finding his way out of the fog: "It is entirely obvious that starve the beast can only work in the most excruciating circumstances."
No, Niklas, it is entirely obvious that "starve the beast" is an insidious form of grotesque fiscal irresponsibility promoted by ideologically-blinded zealots that can never work, and will always and necessarily result in the most excruciating circumstances. Everyone else, please click the world works link, and see what Reaganite supply-sider Bruce Bartlett has to say about "starve the beast.”
Here is the (I hope) wise council I offered Niklas in comments to his post at MB.
Like you, I was a right-wing quasi-libertarian in my callow youth. As I matured and learned the facts of life on this planet, I came to know better. If you are genuinely open to understanding how the world works, you will gradually and steadily give up your right-wing libertarian fantasies.
“Free markets” are a myth.
“Small government” is not a principle, it is a particularly vacuous ideological talking point.
Government is the only entity with enough size and power to be able to counter the might of trans-national corporations. OTOH, the alignment of government and corporations leads to the control of government by corporations – the very definition of fascism (per Mussolini.) This, alas, is where we are headed.
Stupid inefficiencies are galling, and they provide colorful examples for cherry-picking right-wing ideologues. But in the grand scheme of things (i.e the real world) are a small price to pay for effective government, and often have actual benefits that libertarian critics either downplay or deny..
Taxation is not only necessary to fund vital government programs, it is necessary to counter the redistribution of wealth from the have-nots to the haves that has occurred over the last 30 years.
In fact, because taxation is not sufficiently progressive, far too much wealth is concentrated at the top, and the current malaise is the direct result of that economic disparity.
You might also note that social programs have NEVER made a significant contribution to federal deficits. These ALWAYS result from military programs and starve-the-beast tax policies.
The modern road to serfdom is not paved by progressive taxation, effective regulation, nor entitlement and transfer programs (vital government actions)- it is paved by the greed of soul-less multinational corporations with no loyalty to anybody nor anything.
The modern corporation thrives on monopoly power, hates competition and is the enemy of real capitalism. This is what made me a progressive. The anti-trust movement of 100 years ago was the hall mark of early 20th century progressivism. As the age robber barons has repeated itself, we can now see why.
May the scales continue to fall from your eyes!