[ExI] The Circle of Coercion/was Re: Friedman and negative income tax

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Wed May 6 19:11:38 UTC 2009

On Tue, May 05, 2009 at 08:12:54AM -0700, Dan wrote:

> > Government welfare is like collecting the insurance if my house
> > burns down: I pay the premiums and if I need it, that's part of the
> > deal.  The deal with government welfare is that if I work, I pay
> > taxes. I'm forced to pay my taxes, but I'm also forced to pay
> > professional indemnity insurance by my employer.

> The key point is: it's forced.  The whole system is based on coercion

There's a thing called the Prisoner's Dilemma.  It's sort of solvable by
tit-for-tat.  Then there's the multiperson prisoner's dilemma.
Coercion, whether by government or very powerful social norms, seems the
only way of solving it.  Yes, choice is reduced, because free individual
choice leads to us all following our individual self-interest to an
outcome that makes us all worse off; only uniform and enforced
commitment lets the cooperative option be stable.  Thus taxes (and
possibly draft) for defense, and law enforcement, and welfare, and
social insurance, and insurer-of-last-resort, and pollution control

> and on perpetuating coercion: you were robbed, so you're entitled.
> Where does your entitlement come from?  Well, from robbing others to
> keep the system going.  From an Extropian perspective, is this the

Or from a social contract: people finding a compact that guarantees a
minimum more attractive than a compact that guarantees a lack of
explicit coercion but otherwise provides no security.  Or from the fact
that the unequal distribution of property is pretty morally tainted if
you look at the history, and ongoing redistributive taxes are less
disruptive than a sweeping act of reform, which might well destabilize
by the next generation anyway.

> kind of thinking and system we want to perpetuate?

I quote a friend of mine:

I sometimes make the argument that the world *is* a libertarian
"paradise". There is, after all, no world government. You want to talk
about "private" police forces and infrastructure companies? We call them
"nations". There are many, and they offer a variety of "packages". Some
do well and others do not.

"What," I say to the spluttering Libertarian, "You want to talk about
hegemony, bundling, required contracts, the importance of colocation,
and natural monopoly? Those aren't very Libertarian points to make."

I then argue that apparently nation-states are the equilibrium result of
anarchy. Good news: Libertarianism "works"! (Well, insofar as our
nation-states "work".) "You're absolutely right; people will, and have,
self-organized to the degree they see necessary. Now what's your point,

-xx- Damien X-) 

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