Monday, August 19, 2013

Paging Mark P

I remain deeply unsure of why people see Federal taxes as somehow being worse than other forms of tax:
The position of the libertarian Republican [inaudible] Right, coming from a principle of non-violence, which is the libertarian American position, that produces interesting results . . . Non-violence: don’t extort taxes from people to the federal government with the policemen.
I mean I get that people don't like to pay taxes.  But let me assure you, there is no state or local tax that I am aware of where you can fail to pay and not become familiar with the legal system.   Why is it violent for the federal government to collect taxes but not for the state government? 

I am paging my local expert on US culture to solve this quandary for us  . . . 


  1. Since this is a quote from Julian Assange, I think we should refer this to an Australian co-blogger.

  2. I suppose. But he was talking about why Ron and Rand Paul are bipartisan heroes. But maybe it takes an Australian to comprehend this! :-)

  3. It seems to make sense that people have more freedom to move between smaller jurisdictions, so taxes (or anything else) going on at smaller scales will be less freedom-limiting, to the extent that it's not systematic.

    The more cynical view is that some collective action problems can only be solved at larger scales, so libertarians (who naturally don't want to solve collective action problems) object more there.

  4. David: Interesting take on the collective action problem. The freedom to move jurisdictions really neglects the transaction costs (loss of social capital, cost to start-up in a new community). But then ignoring transaction costs is also very typical of the Libertarian movement (just like Liberals tend to underestimate deadweight loss in taxation).

  5. Sure, but my whole point is that the jurisdiction-switching costs shrink with the size of the jurisdiction, so the extent to which freedom is curtailed shrink with the jurisdiction.

    It occurs to me that my two points in the first comment are sort of the same point. A local rule not to pollute Lake Michigan doesn't solve the problem exactly because it's less freedom-limiting.

    1. Smaller jurisdictions also acerbate the free rider problem. You take advantage of urban infrastructure then pay taxes in the suburbs.