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Anarcho capitalism, utopia, and the death tax

Here’s a comment on a quote of mine.

“The government should never be in a position to dictate to a person what they have to do with what they own.

I believe that this statement sums up your whole argument and it seems, your philosophy. In short, taxes should be voluntary. Lets just sit back and watch the money roll in… Step Right Up…who is going to donate first?”

The first part is what I wrote and the second part is the incredulous response from a friend of mine (Randy, is that you?). In truth, I do feel that all payments should be voluntary. We should only pay for what we want to pay. No government or organization should be able to force to support something we don’t want to support. That situation would be a true free market economy, everything that is provided would be paid for by the people who consume the product or service. It would be strictly voluntary, so we would be free to do what we pleased in any aspect of our lives. This is the credo of anarcho-capitalists. It has a lot of appeal but unfortunately it is an utopian ideal. I don’t see any possible way that it can work, just like any other utopia.

There exists a continuum between the utopia I describe above and the utopia described by Marx and other collectivist thinkers. The difference is in who gets to decide how goods and services are made and provided. Marx envisioned a cooperative approach, where all the labor and means of production are shared equally between everyone. Fascists believe that all people and resources should be aimed at the government’s primary aim. Both Fascists and Communists are collectivist philosophies and living under them is almost exactly alike. Anarchists see a world where everyone is looking out for themselves. Neither end of this spectrum is workable in my mind, but there is a lot of ground in between.

What is appealing about the Marx approach is that it seems much more “fair” than the capitalist approach. People should share resources, no one should get ahead of anyone else. Fascism can also have some appeal, as long as the government has the “right” ideas at it’s core. Sounds good, but there’s a problem. Every government that leans this way is at best inefficient and wasteful (think modern day France and Germany) or generates history’s most infamous leaders. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, or any current thugocracies you care to mention in the third world. What nation has thrived trying to protect workers and limit how much money one can make? How many have gone bankrupt (both morally and financially) doing the same?

The cold, hard facts are that when governments lean towards collectivist thinking, freedom and standards of living tend to decrease. Where would you rather live, the worker’s paradise of North Korea, or South Korea where those nasty capitalists have ensured that there are no more famines. Take a look at China and India. They still have a very long way to go, but when they opened up their markets to competition and reduced governmental meddling, their economies made enormous gains. They shifted in the continuum towards the capitalist end and away from collectivist thinking. New Zealand has made a remarkable turnaround as well as Chile, also by making the same shift.

Like I said before, I don’t think that either end of the spectrum is workable, so that means that choices have to be made. Whenever we can shift towards capitalism and away from collectivism, I’m all for it. History has shown that it helps, that growth is the result. This government is firmly in the middle of the continuum, but it is quite a bit more liberal (in the original sense of the word) than most other countries. It’s no surprise that we are one of the most prosperous nations too. Getting rid of the death tax is a very small step away from collectivist thinking, but it’s a step in the right direction. We’ll never achieve utopia, but we can make it as nice as possible…

Isaac

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