Re: Beggars in Spain

Dave Long (
Thu, 08 Jul 1999 21:31:33 -0700

[Sigh. There have been many good points raised in this thread, but
with 20-odd posts to sift through, I'm much too lazy to undertake
the proper response. Hence I'll just behave in proper mailing list
fashion (what did you all decide about evil?) and pick on one.]

> Take social
> security. I'm certainly not counting on that for my retirement.
> I don't have any sort of gov't medical benefit.

Fine. I'm not counting on it for my retirement either, but I don't
find anyone holding a gun to my head to collect "social security,
medicare, and unemployment and other retirement taxes", so I doubt
you have someone holding a gun to yours.

If you feel that strongly about it, don't pay the tax. Now, you may
pay income tax, so you may wish to argue that it's all bundled.
Looking in the back of my 1997 and 1998 1040 booklets, I see that
federal outlays for "social security, medicare, and other
retirement" are about four percentage points more than income. Yes,
there is some cross funding, but is there enough to argue over?

> Whatever. We have the highest expenditure of funds on law enforcement
> in the world

"Law enforcement and general government" comes in at 2%. Fun to
argue about, but the profile says not to waste cycles here.

> I suppose your next argument will be to say that I can choose to avoid
> taxes by choosing my citizenship. It's an imperfect analogy; I don't
> *ever* have to buy a TV, say; OTOH, I *have* to live somewhere, and
> most likely there is still going to be a bigger gov't framework to
> contend with than is strictly necessary. It's a matter of choosing the
> least among evils. But it's a forced choice; in commerce, choices are
> always made freely.

Maybe a bigger framework to contend with than you consider strictly
necessary (which I take to be zero), but it shouldn't be difficult
to find places to live where there is less of a framework than your
current residence (and where your post-tax net worth will go much
farther than back in the states).[1]

Choices are not always made "freely" in commerce, either. The market
certainly loved software suites; the body politic has similar liking
for a "suite" of public goods and services.

> But how about going to some kind of ala carte system?
> If I choose not to pay for social security, I can never receive its
> benefits... Would that work?

Social security already works like that. One can avoid a good deal
of whining about scraped knees by simply staying on one's feet.


[1] Theoretically, you may need a passport to be allowed to leave the
country. In practice, no one seems to mind as long as you aren't
badmouthing the CIA during your world travels. If you renounce
citizenship first, the point may be moot.