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America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Madison on Government and Force

While we have no evidence that George Washington said, "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master," we can report that James Madison did say this:
[There] never was a Government without force. What is the meaning of Government? An institution to make people do their duty. A Government leaving it to a man to do his duty, or not, as he pleases, would be a new species of Government, or rather no Government at all. 
Quoted in Max M. Edling's A Revolution in Favor of Government, and attributed to the Virginia ratifying convention, Doc. Hist. v. 10, I 302.

Thus Madison would have understood that libertarian minarchism without taxation is incoherent.

5 comments:

Random said...

I'm going to twirl my mustache and play devil's advocate here.

The big lie libertarians make is that membership in the State and any collective mutual advantage insurance agreements it establishes is not voluntary, when everybody knows that there is a market in State memberships, and if one does not like to be a member of the UK for instance one can shop around and say purchase membership in the Monaco Principality.

Having UK state membership and paying the related fees to be a member of the related insurance schemes is a voluntary exchange of mutual advantage, and if one does not like that bargain, they are entirely free to buy a different bargain from some other state membership fee provider.

Libertarians are like hipsters who think coffee at Starbucks is too expensive and they don’t want high prices for a cool cafe atmosphere; they are entirely free to buy they coffee somewhere else, instead of arguing that Starbucks "infringe their liberty" to have a cheap coffee in a cheaper looking place.

Libertarianism is about freedom of contract, and that does not include the *effective* right to be offered a deal one likes; it only includes the *legal* right to refuse any deal one dislikes.

The libertarian answer to someone complaining that their job does not pay them a living wage is "if you don't like that, resign, nobody is forcing you to work for a wage you don't feel adequate - "if nobody is offering you a wage that you find adequate, tough luck sunshine".

In a similar way, as long as a state does not forbid leaving it, staying means accepting a freely entered into bargain, whatever the terms are. Self ownership includes the right to do a deal with the state that includes giving it an equity stake in it.

If you don't like a state offering you a deal involving an equity position in your self-ownership, "leave it and find a better deal, and if no state offers you a better deal, tough luck sunshine" is the only possible libertarian answer.

Membership in a state, as long as leaving it is allowed, is a voluntary bargain of mutual advantage.

So from a libertarian perspective paying UK taxes is entirely voluntary - people have chosen not to pay them, and that is working out fine. They have chosen to pay taxes somewhere else where they think they get a better bargain.

Paying taxes in the UK is a freely entered contract, where you get the benefits of UK citizenship, and you pay a yearly membership free. Many in the third world would pay much for this.

There is no slavery -- you work to pay the membership fee for a housing association that you have freely chosen to be a member of.

Just as working for Sports Direct: you think that their wages are too low and working conditions too bad? Then find a better paying job, working at Sports Direct is a free choice, and you can quite anytime you want. There is a long queue outside of people eager to take your job.

You think that the UK "housing association" is not offering good value for its membership fee? Nobody is forcing you to be a member, you can always quit it, sell your flat/house there and buy one in another "housing association".

TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

Random said...

I also don't buy the libertarian position that where you were born shouldn't limit where you can go. Unfortunately that fails on the logical point that we can't all fit into the same square mile in London.

So there is a limit, and if there is a limit you either manage it, or you leave it to 'natural forces' or 'market forces.'

Indeed freedom of migration can be a gross violation of liberty, because it implies the ability to force a deal on an unwilling party, in the case of an immigrant that wants a deal to live in a particular state.

Libertarianism is about the right to refuse deals, not the right to *impose* them on others.

So libertarianism includes the freedom to refuse an offer of membership of a state by an individual, but also the freedom of a state's members to refuse an offer of membership by any other individual.

So libertarians can't coherently oppose the right to *emigrate* (once all existing membership dues are paid, of course), but they must oppose coercing existing members of a state to accept new members, as under libertarian principles nobody has the right to force others to offer them a bargain, any bargain or a specific bargain.

David Friedman said...

I don't think your point about taxation follows. One could imagine a government that uses force to maintain its monopoly of retaliatory force but not to collect taxation—roughly the Objectivist model.

Random said...

"One could imagine a government that uses force to maintain its monopoly of retaliatory force but not to collect taxation—roughly the Objectivist model."

I don't think so unless they are extremely delusional. Taxes are required to create demand for a currency and control inflation. Government recovers induced tax from the spending. If there is no saving in the spending chain the government gets all its money back.

But interestingly not to "fund" spending. If you haven't heard of MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) I recommend taking a look at it:

https://alittleecon.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/the-basics-of-modern-monetary-theory/

It is very counter-intuitive.

This blog on why taxes and spending are necessary:

http://www.3spoken.co.uk/2014/06/why-mmt-is-electric.html

And extremely strong evidence from Japan that what mainstream economists say are nonsense:

http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=28918

On the money multiplier:

http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=1623

Random said...

MMT states that spending is limited by real resources, not money. Here is a full long primer:

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/modern-monetary-theory-primer.html

And a short analogy. Actually read this first!:

http://www.3spoken.co.uk/2011/01/how-governments-super-platinum-credit.html