I’ll accept that as a decent first approximation, but there are enough counterpoints to reduce its utility.

There are a LOT of variables in any “authoritarian” equation. The question is the extent to which those variables mitigate the loss of personal liberty which occur when decisions are moved from person and business to government.

However, let’s baseline this discussion. We do agree, I hope that personal liberty is of a higher value than (a) social cohesiveness and even (b) group economic welfare?

(a) Most* in the US agree that personal liberty trumps social cohesiveness. Classical authoritarian governments flip that coin over and restrict freedom of the press, speech, religion…….on the grounds that diversity of thought, opinion, and belief cause social disruption. That thought was certainly front and center in Soviet Communism, and remains a factor in today’s Chinese SortaCommunism:

* It’s worth mentioning that there is some interest from the new US Left in European style hate speech laws, which is disturbing. Also, the concept of no-platforming certain individuals, etc., indicates some disturbing tendencies in this area not previously present in the US.

(b) The second area, group economic welfare, is more muddled, and usually where right and left clash on these matters in the US. So while we generally have agreed that personal economic welfare trumps group economic welfare, we’ve tempered that for decades with business regulation and rudimentary social welfare systems.

For example, the citizen is not permitted to participate in the decision as to how smooth the freeway should be. Nor is the citizen permitted to decide whether a particular chemical is carcinogenic. In this case, the fact that the state makes the decision for the citizen removes a burden from that citizen.

Without objection. But now, peel the onion one step further and you get a very good example of my point, rather than an exception or a “glitch” as you put it.

It does not infringe on anyone’s personal freedom if the government decides what “smooth” is, or that a product (ex: cigarettes) is carcinogenic.

Yet, no nation on the planet has banned the use of the cigarettes, even though it would bring a good deal of social economic benefit. Even for clearly authoritarian governments, that’s a bridge too far. It is a drastic infringement of personal freedom to dictate or ban the personal use of a product.

The second glitch with your suggestion concerns decisions that reflect trade-offs between one citizen and another. The government might condemn the land of a private landowner in order to construct a road through that land. This hurts one landowner but benefits many other citizens. This is a clear case of making a decision for the citizen that is beneficial to society as a whole.

Yes. The need for eminent domain abilities is well established as a part of governance. I quite agree that this is a level of authoritarianism is something that freedom advocates must grudgingly grant in order to have a functioning government.

Oh Lordy, here we go with another anti-tax screed. Look, friend, if you want to build a ship and go live in the middle of the ocean without any interaction with anybody else, then you won’t have to pay any taxes.

Straw man argument.

The world is not neatly divided between “taxers” and “anti-taxers”. You are engaging in a logical fallacy, claiming that because I (correctly) point out that taxation causes a loss of personal freedom, I must be anti-tax.


I am not “anti-tax”. I acknowledge — readily — the necessity for taxation in order to create a civil society. The POINT, which for some reason you appear afraid to discuss, is that just like your example of eminent domain, taxation transfers a modicum of freedom from individual to government, thus begging the question (and debate) about how much taxation is acceptable to achieve that civil society, and at what level of taxation has the individual ceded too much personal freedom to the state.

In the US, nobody supports zero taxation. The debate is always about the level of taxation. I would think that to be obvious, as is the obvious fact that taxation transfers freedom by decreasing disposable income.

After all, economically speaking, a slave is just a worker being taxed at 100%, eh?

So you see no problem with one citizen injuring other citizens to gain money. Sorry, I think that’s unethical.

So do I, but that’s a rather significant mischaracterization of regulation, which exists in many forms. I do indeed see a problem in one citizen injuring other citizens to gain money. The realm of “business regulation” is way too broad to resolve down to simple cause-effect relationships.

Does the vagueness of that term deprive your argument of any significance?

Not at all. These areas are well in the realm of political debate. There are no easy answers. (I know you LIKE easy answers, from the way you’ve attempted to cram me into the “anti-tax” box above, but that’s not how the world works, sorry.)

Perhaps it would be useful if you were to cite an example of an egregious regulation. And be specific!

Sure. Part of the regulatory package called Dodd-Frank included increasingly stringent reporting requirements on banking. After the events of 2008, that seemed LOGICAL, eh? To demand that banks provide more and more information to regulators seemed good for the “system”, eh?

Well, not so much.

Community banking, and the sheer number of small to mid sized banks in the nation, is a stabilizing factor in our overall economic system. As bad as 2008 was, it could have been even worse if not for the fact that a huge amount of citizen wealth was being kept not at Citibank or Chase or Wells Fargo, but was spread out over thousands of smaller banks, giving consumers and small business (a) choice as well as (b) localized service.

Well, it was well documented that part of the Dodd-Frank regulations was actually putting those community banks out of business, with those smaller banks consolidating with larger banks, and thus *increasing* risk to the overall system.

If you want an example that includes personal taxation, you can’t do better than this one, where the Senate Majority Leader drove through a bill which actually destroyed part of the tax base in his own home state. (ironic, eh?)

(Odd link format here, may have to cut and paste into your browser)



Inasmuch as I reject the assumption

Well, it’s not an assumption, it’s research. But whatever. This is getting dull. :-)

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Data Driven Econophile. Muslim, USA born. Been “woke” 2x: 1st, when I realized the world isn’t fair; 2nd, when I realized the “woke” people are full of shit.

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