Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Pol. Ideology 41: Engage Government or Not; Minarchy or Anarchy

A friend in facebook, David Shellenberger, is among the advocates of anarchy or "zero authority" or "no ruler" or simply zero government. He maintains a blog,

The libertarian or classical liberal philosophy is mainly divided between the advocates of anarchy and minarchy. The latter advocates "limited/minimal government". I belong to the latter philosophy. I believe there is one important function for government, and that is to promulgate the rule of law when non-government and civil society form of arbitration fails.

Today, David posted a news article with this note,  "With corporate taxes below EU and OECD averages and a raft of recent regulation changes, Sweden has gone from being considered a tax hell to a tax haven."

I commented on his note and below is our exchange. Posting this with his permission, thanks David.

Nonoy Oplas Hi David, how do you reconcile supporting low taxes with abolition of government? cheers.

David E. Shellenberger Hi Nonoy. I favor a tax rate of zero.

Nonoy Oplas I know, I also support the abolition of income tax but I can tolerate a consumption tax to support limited government. In your case, you support zero government, right?

David E. Shellenberger Right. And I consider taxation theft.

Nonoy Oplas Right, so why did you bother to post a news on low-tax when it is still means low-theft?

David E. Shellenberger Nonoy, I'd prefer to post an article about a country having abolished the government. Pending that good news, the story at least shows that lower taxes are better than higher taxes. As the article notes, the US has the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world.

Once you come over to the bright side of anarchism, let's free the Phillipines.

Nonoy Oplas In my experience, just to keep government stay its size as big as last year is already very hard. Wishing for minarchy is almost impossible but there is hope. Wishing for anarchy is... well, , like wishing anarchists to love socialism, so far out 

David E. Shellenberger I speak to the ideal. My view is that, when folk advocate for minarchism, they offer false legitimacy to the state.

Nonoy Oplas The same feeling I get. When people advocate for anarchism, they never engage government in any policy dialogue (why would one dialogue with an institution that he wants to be abolished), government keeps expanding each year. They are great allies of state expansion.

David E. Shellenberger Nonoy, engaging the government to ask it to get smaller is like speaking with the mafia and asking it to downsize. Government is like slavery. We shouldn't accommodate it--just get rid of it.

Saying that anarchists are allies of state expansion is like blaming abolitionists for slavery.

Nonoy Oplas You're wrong David. In 2009, there was drug price control policy here. Some politicians and socialists were jumping with joy. All the local players, multinational and innovator pharma, even small drugstores, complained. Anyway, the populists wanted to expand the list of medicines for price control. There were several dialogues and discussions. The plan to expand the list was killed. If the plan is to boycott dialogue with government, the list of government-controlled medicine prices, the power of govt, should be larger by now. That is why a dialogue with govt is necessary, you just wish is to stay at its size, if not become smaller whenever possible. To argue for zero accommodation, zero engagement with government, is formula for government to keep expanding without limit.

David E. Shellenberger Nonoy, there is the occasional improvement. But to expect government--which is a criminal enterprise, to accommodate the public interest is a mistake. Efforts are better directed towards educating people that government is illegitimate and should be abolished.

Nonoy, you're welcome to quote me. I write for the public. Here are resources:

Recent article by Robert Higgs:
I can understand why someone might embrace classical liberalism. I did so myself...See More

Nonoy Oplas Good luck to wishing for government abolition. Thanks for the permission to quote.
Here's my latest debate with some health socialists here. They want more and more government intervention. I am a member of the advisory Council to hear these kinds of concerns and lobbying, I shoot down their "more intervention please" lobbying, they keep silent after,

David E. Shellenberger As I note in my video, we should speak out for the truth regardless of whether this will bring results. I rather do this than give the government false legitimacy. A battle won with government may just extend the war, since one has conceded that a criminal enterprise should be treated as though it is legitimate.

Nonoy Oplas Precisely. Always backing out from engaging government. Government creates a new bureaucracy via legislation, you are nowhere to be found because you never engage government. The bill becomes a law, new taxes will be created to support those new bureaucracies, and you are still nowhere to be found as you never engage or debate government. And government keeps expanding every year.

So it is a case where government and socialists keep expanding, the government abolitionists are holed up in one conference room lambasting why government keeps expanding. They are called to attend public hearing and they never come as they do not want to give any form of recognition or legitimacy to any government entity. And the bureaucracy and taxes and coercion growing each year. And the abolitionists keep complaining why it is happening.

David E. Shellenberger Thanks, Nonoy. As to anarchists being "nowhere to be found," we speak out all the time. Don't blame us for the growth of government. I suggest that engaging government is one reason it continues to grow.

Nonoy Oplas You wrote, "I rather do this than give the government false legitimacy. A battle won with government may just extend the war, since one has conceded that a criminal enterprise should be treated as though it is legitimate." So how can you engage and have policy dialogue with an institution that you never recognize as legitimate? If you do, then you are contradicting yourself.

I am not saying that staying out of dialogue and debate with government is the only or sole explanation why government expands. Government expands by itself like amoeba. It needs a contrary force to check its further expansion, hence the need to engage it and debate it. But by staying out of debating an "illegitimate" entity, that act alone gives government wider space to expand via legislation or other executive orders.

David E. Shellenberger Once people stop supporting government, it will collapse. Telling the truth about the criminal enterprise is a step towards delegitimizing it, and, in my view, is the moral path. I have no interest in a dialogue with government.

Nonoy Oplas Another example here. There is a law that forces private enterprises to give 20 percent mandatory discount to senior citizens (60 yrs old and above) and persons with disabiity (PWDs). That law has crippled many small enterprises here, especially small drugstores, many of them became bankrupt and closed shop. Then another law expands it, the 12 percent VAT imposed on private enterprises, they cannot pass on to senior citizens and PWDs, so that makes the mandatory and forcible discount 32 percent. It drives another round of bankruptcy for other small drugstores.

Then some populist Senators proposed another bill, mandatory 20 percent discount to solo or single parents, discount on baby diapers, vitamins, medicines, clothing, toys, shoes, food, etc. If free marketers will stay out of such stupid bills, those bills will soon become a law. I myself wrote a letter to the Senator sponsor of that bill opposing it.

It is your right and privilege not to engage government, fine. But to say that engaging government is
a reason for its growth is plain wrong.

David E. Shellenberger It's not plain wrong, since every interaction with government reinforces its false legitimacy.

Nonoy Oplas Good luck David. I watch the US and many other governments expanding every year and the abolitionists are holed out in a conference room complaining why this is happening, and they are not supposed to engage or debate government whatsoever.

See also:
Pol. Ideology 33: Anarchy or Minarchy, July 13, 2012
Pol. Ideology 34: More on Anarchy or Minarchy, July 17, 2012
Pol. Ideology 39: Thatcherism, April 10, 2013 

Pol Ideology 40: On Social Darwinism, May 23, 2013

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