Friday, July 13, 2012

Pol. Ideology 33: Anarchy or Minarchy

From wiki, anarchy means "'absence of a leader', "without rulers"), has more than one definition. In the United States, the term "anarchy" typically is used to refer to a society without a publicly enforced government or violently enforced political authority.... Proponents of anarchism (known as "anarchists") advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical voluntary associations."

"Minarchism (also known as minimal statism) is a libertarian capitalist political philosophy. It is variously defined by sources. In the strictest sense, it maintains that the state is necessary and that its only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud... Minarchists argue that the state has no authority to use its monopoly on force to interfere with free transactions between people, and see the state's sole responsibility as ensuring that contracts between private individuals and property are protected, through a system of law courts and enforcement. Minarchists generally believe a laissez faire approach to the economy is most likely to lead to economic prosperity."

Last July 09, 2012, I posted this photo in my facebook wall with a brief note, "Funny but true, or scary and true." Then a friend based in Tokyo, Marc Abela, made a comment, then we had the following exchanges below, from July 09 to 11 this week. Posting the exchanges with his permission.

Marc Abela ‎"Metaphorically a "Trojan Horse" has come to mean any trick or stratagem that causes a target to invite a foe into a securely protected bastion or space. It is also associated with "malware" computer programs presented as useful or harmless to induce the user to install and run them."
-Wikipedia  :)

Nonoy Oplas Thanks Marc. I think the Obamacare can be considered as a Trojan horse in the definition you gave. People will reject if they will see an explicit tax law, but they will open up if it's a health insurance law, not fully realizing the various new taxes or raising of existing tax rates, introduced by the Obamacare.

Marc Abela In all fairness, one could probably push your great comment and extend it to the effect that all (all) taxes (in history?) have all been presented with exactly the same angle, i.e. as a Trojan horse... Most politicians aren't really that smart, but all of them are smart enough to know not to tell their people "I will tax you more - simply because I hope to get more money for myself"... :)
Ultimately, I guess the Greek have really invented it all, then haven't they, from Democracy to the Odyssey, they've obviously pretty much prepared everything... :)

Nonoy Oplas But taxes as mandatory contribution to the govt are also done similarly even in voluntary organizations. You join a rotary club or golf or tennis or running club, you also pay the mandatory dues, there are also elected officials there, have by-laws . So taxes or mandatory payment are trade off of belonging to an organization, voluntary or government. A few and small taxes are seen by many people as plain taxes, not the typical Trojan horse.

Marc Abela Well... I tend to disagree (if I may) a little bit there.
For in fact, if a tax is (in any amount) voluntary, then it is not a tax... A tax is and has got to be 100% "you pay us whether you like the service or not - or we throw you in a cage, and if you refuse the cage, we kill you". Sorry for being a bit blunt - keeping things vague never really helps... :)

So yeah, everything else, joining organizations, fees @ tennis clubs, etc - if nobody throws you in a box if you refuse to join the activity and open your wallet, then it all fits (entirely) OUTSIDE the scope of taxes. Mixing both "taxes" and "voluntary organization imposed fees" would be like mixing say a straight clear "rape" with saying "I was raped - but I got to freely select the person who raped me, I got to decide how much they raped me, and I said stop when I had enough". One can't have it both ways, if we're the one deciding how things move, then it's not a rape (/tax). If a king or a government bills you money in exchanges for services yet to be determined in some remote future or for goods very vaguely defined or clearly absent (and if you don't surrender your money - you end up in a box) then it's a tax. If not - then everything else is pure normal/private business with all the coercion that comes with it, you want to eat in my restaurant you have to pay up front for reservation, you want to buy an iPod you have to pay a deposit, you want to watch my movie you pay cash before the thing starts, you want to join my club it's X dollars a month, you want to live the building I just built it will cost you Y per month just for condo fees, etc etc...
(let me know if you disagree...)

Nonoy Oplas Yes, sort of disagreement. If we agree with the definition that something that is "mandatory payment", "obligatory contribution" otherwise there are penalties, say throwing you out of an organization or putting you in a box, then there is similarity with govt tax coercion and voluntary orgs' contribution coercion. The difference of course is that one may not belong to any voluntary organization while one has to pay a tax to the govt, but the above works on the premise that people opt to belong to one organization in one way or another.

Marc Abela Interesting... See, I personally always make a very clear (100% thick) line between:
1. Bills which I am forced to pay for clear "goods & services" that I "need/want/hope/have" to use
2. Bills which I am forced to pay, just because, well... "because" :)
I've noticed that when people start using dotted-lined definitions, discussions tend to move sideways more than they should...

And so to me, a tax has to be billed by the government, with coercion & threat, and there is nothing I can do to avoid it. It has to be a "you pay us just because of WHO we say we are and NOT because you really have/need/hope/want to use our goods & services - and if you don't pay us, we WILL throw you in a cage".
If it's not... then, sure, similarities, there are many, to that I will give & agree, but they only exist to the extent where one can argue that a rape is also a bit similar to voluntary sex. I keep a hard line position - it's not. A girl can't pick the men, choose the location, say stop when she wants - and we all still call it a rape. Or else then, well, we open the door to the "opposite argument" (which I fear most - since that's exactly where lying/taxing government hope to walk in) i.e. governments (rapists and ill-meant men) will show up and start arguing "well, see, I didn't really rape my people your honor, it almost felt as if they all wanted to be raped, my rapes were almost like condo fees and club memberships".
And I would / never-ever / feel comfortable giving them that much latitude to any taxing government... :)

Nonoy Oplas Well, if you live in a residential condo, or a gated village, you pay the mandatory monthly or annual association dues, pay extra for the car sticker, maids' ID, etc. You don't pay, the village association will sue you, or at least publicize your name and address for the rest of the village residents that you did not pay the mandatory dues. This is not to say that I support all taxes, I support only 1 form of tax, whether it's VAT or income tax and all other taxes should be abolished. And this is because I don't believe in anarchy or zero government, I believe in small or limited govt or miniarchy, hence, the need for at least 1 type of tax to be paid to that very lean govt with only 1 or 2 function/s: protect people's right to life, liberty and private property.

Marc Abela ‎1. Well, but then, a condo fee comes out as part of a contract you sign. A tax is a social contract you inherit at birth. A condo fee you pay because the owner will clean etc. A tax you pay because your owner owns you like a slaves we are. The difference is of great (really massive) importance, to me, at least... Anyway, I have seen bills and invoices for a while - and I make two piles, those sent with a seal from the government, and those sent from things I need/have-to pay due to the contracts I have signed (places I have decided to rent, services I have agreed to use, etc).

2. Minarchy mathematically speaking fits as what many call (in math) an "unstable equilibrium" position. Just like say, when someone is standing straight on top of a big balloon. There is equilibrium. But not like the "stable equilibrium" you get when you are standing on the floor. I dislike (personally) minarchy, for it still implies:
2.a A two-tier social structure (i.e. some will have the right to tax others)
2.b There's a remnant of coercion (/taxation). Ideally I want to pull society all the way towards as little coercion as possible and I don't see 0 coercion as absurd.
2.c Intelligent kids block immediately when they see contradiction in a message. If try to tell them we don't want to have a pharaoh taxing us in order to take care of our health care and of our retirement - but we want a pharaoh to tax us so that he can protect people's right to life, smart kids will immediately go "w... what?!". I can't tell them we want as little taxation as possible - and then argue we still need a farmer to tax the animals however to protect the animal's right to private property, it sounds like a contradiction I'm not sure I feel comfortable backing up with my usual reflection...

Nonoy Oplas A condo unit owner, not just a tenant, still pays dues to the owner of the building.
Anarchy is as idealistic as communism, both ranges represent zero and 100 percent government ownership and control of the means of production and other aspects of human life. That is why both are far from happening and even from attracting public support.

Coercion is a matter of degree, according to Hayek. A parent forcing the child to stop watching tv and do his assignment instead, or go to bed early is imposing coercion on the child. A school or restaurant or coffee shop saying "no smoking" in all premises is enforcing coercion to all of its customers or students. This is limited or micro coercion. Government coercion is applied at the macro level. The point is that zero coercion is not possible. One has to adjust to various degrees of coercion. But to see a "zero coercion" society is not possible.

Marc Abela Great (excellent) point, there is indeed no such thing as a "no (zero) coercion" society, even the softest vegetarian with the cleanest intentions will kill thousands of bugs on his way to lunch every day after he has destroyed his crops of corn and wheat.
But the ideal remains. Why limit our aim to something like "close to the moon", or aim say for a grade around "85%" at the final exam...? My take is I say let's just all study as if we were in it to get 100%, let's register to the baseball league and practice as if we wanted to do our best effort and go for the win at the final, minarchy to me sounds a bit like having Federer say in an interview "my goal is to loose somewhere around the semi-final". :)

I (and tell me I'm crazy if you think I am) almost prefer communists who go 100% all the way (i.e. no contradiction) and simply argue everything (everything) should simply be taken care of by an all despotic ruling government, I actually prefer them more, than say a socialist who draws some arbitrary line in the sand and argues he wants government to take care of his healthcare and his retirement and his borders, but doesn't want to be told what he can smoke or eat. The same way around, if people are going to argue for a small government, why not simply answer "none at all - zero!" when asked what's the ideal, always certain that at best we'll probably always end up with 95% at the exam or something... :)

By the way, any trips to Japan scheduled soon?, many here would be delighted to receive you here.
Talk soon, Marc

Nonoy Oplas Thanks Marc. Permission to use our exchange for my blog post?
Meanwhile, I argue in this paper that people should be allowed to own guns, they need not be registered with the government/police, but they should belong to a gun club. The gun club will be registered with the govt. Now if a member shoots someone for no valid reason at all, the gun club acting as "referee" will go after him to demand accountability for his action. If 2 or more members from 2 or more clubs shoot each other and their respective clubs protect them, a possible shooting war between or among clubs can happen. This is where I believe a bigger referee -- the justice system, the police -- should come in, to prevent more violence, to enforce the rule of law. And that means a very lean, limited government,·

Marc Abela Hello Nonoy, of course, please do share our exchange as & where you will.
Allow me to add slightly also to this discussion.

First, the famous "second amendment" (1789 @ Madison I believe which is pretty much copied on similar British ideas from 1689 from what I understand) clearly remains one of the most peaceful (the most peaceful?) amendment ever written in the history of mankind (i.e. by writing up explicitly that the ruler was not allowed to INFRINGE ON THE RIGHT of the little people to protect themselves from the ruler's taxation, society could therefore eventually hope to avoid all the useless wars and all the nonsensical mess governments impose on us, wars we currently (today) have to witness on a regular basis on our planet, from the Middle-East to Africa, where creepy psychopaths (from Bush to Obama to Blair to Sarkozy, etc), go around bombing poor people around the world just for nothing but a bigger year end bonus). Now, I tend to hold an even more extreme position than the 2nd amendment. For in my opinion, the 2nd amendment still implies we WILL HAVE a ruling pharaoh who WILL BE taxing us. In fact the 2nd amendment merely states "the people will be taxed a little bit by some pharaoh somewhere - hence the need to write a "constitution" to limit how far the pharaoh can tax his people - let's just quickly write that the people can keep the right to defend themselves as they see fit". Which in a way is a very weird (and complete mathematical) contradiction. The 2nd amendment is almost like saying to girls "guys who will rape you are not allowed to infringe on your right to wear a rugby helmet". It's completely absurd, whatever way I look at it. Hence also (in a way) my refusal of minarchism as a viable long-term proposal... I see nothing but a (blatant?) contradiction... :)

Second, in any account, I personally don't really want to live in a society where "guns are restricted" by any specific group of people no more than I want to live in a society where kitchen knives are restricted by some central planning group. I would probably loose all my friends if I started walking around town with huge knives and massive bazookas in my bags. I trust society & people well enough to ostracize all the weirdos to know we don't probably need really some taxing central despot to handle society's gun & knives buying.
Also, you've probably been following the action, but lately we are starting to see some new cracks in the "justice system & police" from the state of ("province of") Quebec (where I am originally from). You should see the mess. Hurts to watch. People are starting (finally, some could say) to see the real color and intention of their government... hopefully it's not too late. But then, there again, I can't see myself recommending handing out something as crucial and as precious as the "justice system" & "police" to the state...

Are you going to Shanghai meeting by the way? I may find myself joining the FreedomWorks event in Dallas in 2 weeks with some Japanese fellows...

PS: I enjoyed your analogy between tennis clubs and gun clubs, made great sense. I trust the market to handle who sells say... "skis", or "tennis rackets", or "kitchen knives" to who... if a 7 year old kid walks into my store and walks up to the register saying "I want to buy the biggest knife you have to sell", clearly I'm going to refuse. And sure, one day somewhere some mom or some dad will forget his golf club or his knife or his carbon tennis racket out on the table and during a fight somehow things went wrong and it resulted with someone loosing a finger, or something even more dramatic, loosing his/her life. But I don't think (I know) it's impossible to tax the animal humans are into security, oh!, sure!, it's possible to tax fearful animals out of their savings while faking caring about them - sure, that any charlatan can do, just like we can see today on any TV screen around the world :) - but to tax people into security or into avoiding incidents or accidents - it's impossible.

I did not make further rebuttals as I wanted to hear more the anarchist arguments, at least as articulated by Marc. But I think that almost anywhere in t he world, the "default mode" for all governments is that they keep expanding, they become bigger and bigger. Somehow we have to engage with governments at a limited scale if only to stop them from expanding even larger. Let me state my experience.

I work and write on various health issues -- drug price control, IPR and drug patents, government health insurance, health NGOs, healthcare competition, FDA, etc. If I start from the argument that government presence in the health sector should be zero, meaning there should be no DOH, no FDA, etc., then I should not recognize and participate in several DOH meetings and consultations. I did because I recognize there is limited role for government intervention in public health, like dealing with infectious and communicable diseases, pediatric diseases, those with physical and mental deficiencies, caused by genes and biophysics, not lifestyle.

When the drug price control policy was imposed in mid-August 2009, some groups and legislators wanted to keep the momentum by covering more medicines under government price dictatorship. By sitting with the DOH and many other people, discussing and showing why price dictatorship is wrong, the momentum was killed. There was no other round of drug price control although the policy remained in force until now. If I advocate anarchism, I should be out of those discussions and meetings, just writing and blogging from the outside, not meeting more actors and stakeholders in the health sector, not hearing their arguments first hand, not seeing their data first hand.

This alone convinces me that anarchism is not workable both in the short- and long-term. The more that we dis-recognize, dis-engage with certain government agencies, the more that governments will expand bigger and bigger.

See also:
Pol. Ideology 21: The Nature of Government, November 14, 2011
Pol. Ideology 26: Socialists in a Liberal Government, February 21, 2012 
Pol. Ideology 27: Why do Many Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?, March 01, 2012
Pol. Ideology 29: Raison d 'Etre of Government, May 20, 2012
Pol. Ideology 30: Federalism, Debt and Civil Society, May 21, 2012
Pol. Ideology 31: Quotes on Liberty and Government, May 29, 2012
Pol. Ideology 32: On Shrinking Government, June 19, 2012


Marc Abela said...

Hello Nonoy,
Great pleasure exchanging with you, always an intellectual exercise which I cherish. I also need/want to thank all those who have made the internet possible - even though they will probably never read this :) they deserve massive credit for all the ideas we both share.
The state is here to stay, it is pretty clear that charlatans and crooks of all ages understand that the best revenues come from fearful, gullible, and fragile kids.
Regarding the healthcare - the government is there to tax people. All the things it does (everything) can be done without taxation. And if it can't, i.e. if a small group of intellectuals cannot get what they want without threatening all the others of death and cages, then the people have spoken. They don't want it, end of the story.
But then (as usual - once again), you and I agree, once the state is there, you can't just "avoid it", one can't simply say "from now on I'm just going to avoid the roads" (for example) just to make a point against the state. Same for healthcare, etc. I personally want to dedicate my life at inviting people (at least friends and those with whom I interact) to the beauty of a world where there is no "two-tier" structure, i.e. where a small group of people can "forcefully tax" the rest of the group. Not for police, not for justice, not healthcare - not for anything. All the things the state does - can ALL be done without taxation. And with much better results. Or so I claim... :)
(talk very soon, & thanks for the discussion)

Marc Abela said...


i.e. where a small group of people CAN'T (not can - of course) "forcefully tax" the rest of the group.


Unknown said...

Bienvenido Oplas Jr said...

Thanks a lot, Micky. I cannot find the "comments" button in your blog, so here are my comments to the points you raised,, cheers.

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