Monday, November 27, 2006

The paradigm of government spending

Across the community, across the state, all over the nation, and in other states and continents, people are voting for political parties based on promises of high levels of government spending on services.

Social democracy is like a giant auction, but instead of each individual bidding for the items they value the most, you have a collective that vote for a leader to take money from all of us and empower the leader to spend it on something they choose. Of course, in order to maintain popularity and win future elections, they will try and spend it on something that is popular with a large proportion of the voting public.

Sadly, but undoubtedly, this whole paradigm, this framework, this approach to politics, this method of thinking, is entirely wrong.

We shouldn't be scanning for a candidate, or a party, who promises to spend and regulate in our favor. Its not just because it might seem selfish, but far worse than that - because we are making decisions that will hurt or punish others who value different policies to us. Selfishness is about deciding whats best for yourself, but this is not a bad thing so long as you do not harm anybody else. If you don't steal, threaten, coerce or use violence against another, then feel free to pursue actions that make you happy.

When you vote for a government, you vote for a body that will govern others. It will take their taxes, it will pass laws and regulations, it will manage welfare payments and will impact on a person's income, relationships, wealth, privacy, property, water, food, clothing, roads, schools, hospitals, universities, advertising and media, parks, nature strips, entertainment, gaming, smoking, drugs, abortion, medical research, employment contracts, freedom of speech, police and security and even more.

This is the paradigm of social democracy. It is not merely selfish. It is wrong, and cruel, and inconsiderate to others who may not agree with every government action.

Try walking into a room of 20 strangers. Put a gun to their head and ask them each to hand over a $50 tax or else face a prison sentence for tax fraud. Then go and spend that $1000.

Try and think about how you could deliver something as good as possible, so that as many of the 20 people are as happy as possible. Is there anything you could do with the $1000 that would make each of those people happier than they would have been if they kept their $50 ?

There are all sorts of things you could spend it on. Food, entertainment, a big party. You could also "help them out" with a welfare payment, that goes towards the cost of their education, or petrol for their car, or medical bills for those who have it.

Many of them would enjoy those things. Maybe even all 20 people would be happier from some of the things you could spend the tax on.

Nothing you could ever spend it on would be as fair, as just, as valued or as beneficial, as the $50 in the hands of its original owners.

Take into account the fact that you've gotta pay government employees a salary to collect the tax, and to administer the spending. You'd be wasting at least 10% of it there. Take into account the fact that those most of those people would have almost certainly done something else with their $50.

If those 20 people handed over the $50 note voluntarily and consensually, I would have no problem. If they didn't like the way the money was spent, they wouldn't hand over their money to the person in the future.

Social democracy is cruel and inconsiderate and downright tyrannical. A liberal democracy is more interested in letting people keep what is rightfully theirs and spend on what they value.

Is government so arrogant that it thinks it can spend our money in ways better than we could ?