[ExI] Is there a potential libertarianism / democracy tension?

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Mon Sep 26 14:24:53 UTC 2011

2011/9/26 Amon Zero <amon at doctrinezero.com>:
> On 26 September 2011 11:10, Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I'm not sure I understand what your asking entirely... but I've done
>> my best to reply to what I think you're asking. If I didn't hit the
>> nail on the head, please ask again.
> Hi Kelly - Thanks for your response -

no problem.

> You said that across-the-board privatization does not amount to a radical
> restructuring of the political-economic system. I would disagree, but I
> suppose that boils down to opinion and semantics. Following that, at the end
> of your post you pointed out it wasn't clear what my question was. Fair
> enough - I think these two points are related.

OK, sounds like we both were unclear. Across the board privatization
WOULD be a radical restructuring. It would create a radical level of
freedom that America has not experienced since 1900 or earlier.

> For my part, I believe that the full libertarian project is an extremely
> radical one.

Agreed. That's why I would take it slow... get there gradually. You
can't do it all in a day.

> This is not to comment on whether I agree with it or not, but
> let's just say that I didn't realise how radical it is (or how common a
> radical version of it is) until perhaps a week ago. This led me to wonder
> if, having succeeded in putting the plan into action, most libertarians
> would be happy to meekly back-track if asked to do so by the general
> population (for whatever reason, lack of understanding the libertarian
> argument, or whatever).

I understand the radical nature of what is proposed, and I am for it.
The general populace is free to elect a new government at the next
election if they don't like it. Seeing as how it took a hundred years
for the progressives to construct this monstrosity, it could take a
while for the libertarians to deconstruct it. Nobody that I know of is
proposing the immediate and complete deconstruction of the US
Government, but rather a gradual progressive movement back to the
founding principles of radically small government.

Clearly different libertarians are going to disagree on the order of
deconstruction, and on the rate of said deconstruction. That's fine,
that's all in the details. The point is to reverse the out of control
growth of the government.

The first thing *I* would do as king of the world is institute a flat
income tax with no tax exemptions whatsoever. This would allow for the
downsizing of the IRS. It would make even the poorest among us players
with skin in the game. I would not tax military income, income of
government employees (though I would lower their incomes by the flat
tax rate across the board on a one time basis), or money that comes
from the government in other ways, such as welfare, social security,
adoption subsidies, etc. (these would also be reduced accordingly) No
sense running money through the system twice. I would then try to
continually reduce this flat tax rate to zero. I don't know what the
flat tax rate would have to be in the short term, but probably it
would come between 15 and 20 percent trending downwards.

I would not have a corporate tax, as that leads in many cases to
double taxation, which is not fair and hurts the economy. With a zero
corporate tax rate, we would become more than competitive with the
rest of the world again nearly immediately.

I would also tax luxury import goods. That alone ran the whole
government in the old days.

Finally, I would tax gasoline at a rate suitable to paying for the
proper share of roads, as well as foreign wars in the middle east. I
think this is good energy policy.

The primary benefit of the flat tax with no deductions is that it
would get congress out of the "legislating morality" business. It
would also downsize the IRS considerably. Tax evasion would still be
punishable by imprisonment for the near term.

As part of this, I would create a government sponsored plan to
reeducate all the tax accountants, most IRS employees and lawyers to
doing something actually productive to society, rather than just
interpreting the current tax system. We don't need rioting accountants
in the street, LOL.

Next, I would try to get the ball rolling on a balanced budget
amendment. Mike Lee has some good ideas here, and I would probably
refer to his work to get started.

Next, I would probably privatize the interstate highway system, the
national parks system, the national forest system, and other things
that would be relatively easy to sell off. I would use the money
raised in these efforts to pay off the debt. Once the highway system
was dismantled, the gas tax could go away, or those funds given to the
privateers. The rates charged for road use etc. would be managed much
the same way as utility rates are managed today. Government
supervision would be required to avoid price gouging.

Things like the department of education and the EPA would be
dismantled slowly, and their function returned to the states, where it
belongs constitutionally. That would have to follow the easier stuff,
since I wouldn't want a radical immediate loss of government function,
leading to a loss of faith in what government was left. Each state
would be left to its own to figure out their own tax codes, etc. They
would become more competitive with each other.

The big pigs social security, medicare and medicaid... fixing those is
hard. I would take whatever steps possible to assist people in
creating personal savings accounts, while at the same time trying to
keep the promises made already. I think that privatization of parts of
these systems is possible, but I haven't personally studied that in
depth. We would have to attack these systems hard, and it might take
100 years to get rid of them entirely, but I would do my best to
minimize them.

I personally would also be likely to lean against labor unions... slightly.

> Now, I know that answer in the real world would obviously be that some
> libertarians would be more respectful of majority decision and opposing
> opinions (i.e. democracy) than would others. The same is true for every
> belief system. What I wondered was whether we have any reason to imagine
> that libertarians might broadly tend toward disrespecting a democratic
> decision to repeal libertarian decisions.

Every two years the public gets to reelect public officials if they
don't like it. Those who haven't liked what Obama has done spoke last
fall, and will speak again next fall. That's the way the US works.
There is not much that can be done between elections in our system.
You get what you elect, and are stuck with it for at least two years.

> You yourself seem to have given a clear "no", that for you a libertarian
> government would be as democratic as any other, its decisions as subject to
> repeal as any other. Would I be right in saying that?

Absolutely. I don't want to overthrow the government, nor remove the
constitution. I want to restore America to it's former status as the
beacon of economic as well as political freedom to the world.

> I should also mention,
> though, that you hint at a lack of education on the part of the voters. I
> wonder if you imagine if they'd embrace libertarian reforms after a bit of
> appropriate education, and the likelihood of repeal would therefore be slim?

It's hard to say if libertarian implementation would result in
immediate economic growth, after all, you've just thrown all the
accountants and IRS employees and tax lawyers out of business. It will
take time for the rest of the economy to absorb them... so it might
not work within a two year window. Obama's plans certainly haven't
worked within a two year window, and I doubt they ever will.

As to the lack of education of the American public, that is a failure
of the school systems. Since I don't believe in federalization of the
education system, I see that as the responsibility of the states. I
have every confidence that many states would start educating the
public on the importance of constitutional principles, but sadly I
don't hold out as much hope for the universities of our great country.
That is a matter for another post altogether.

Ayn Rand's book Atlas Shrugged is a great introduction to these
principles, it's not an easy read as it is both long and long winded.
I recommend the audio book if you like that sort of thing better.
Unfortunately, the recent movie only goes half way through the book,
and rumor is the second half won't be made due to sluggish box office
performance of the first movie.

For what it's worth, the tea party is very much a libertarian leaning
movement. Not quite as radical as I am, but getting in the right


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