[ExI] Conscientious objections

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Thu Nov 15 17:45:25 UTC 2012

On Wed, Nov 14, 2012 at 8:34 PM, Rafal Smigrodzki
<rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:
> Using the
> notion of externality here is also inappropriate: If you look at the
> usual meaning of this term in economic literature, it applies to costs
> or benefits of trade not transmitted through prices, or affecting
> persons other than the buyer and seller directly involved in the
> trade.

You drive on roads that I have paid for, in an area where the
closest thing to an armed robber (taxes) is something you can
plan for, and is based primarily on how much money you have
mooched off other people (likely in exchange for services
rendered, but if taxes and armed robbery are morally identical,
the same comparison holds between not offering your services
for free and outright helping yourself to others' property).  You
can not avoid taking advantage of these things my money
helped pay for, so long as you are within the United States.

Therefore, if you want to cease your obligation to me, the only
practical choice is to leave the United States.  Otherwise,
there most certainly is an externality.

Now of course it is impractical for you, me, and everyone else
to directly decide all of these issues, on a scale of the entire
United States.  So there is a set of people - the "government" -
elected (or appointed by the elected, or appointed by the
appointees of the elected, but all ultimately responsible to the
electorate - that is, to all of us) to handle these matters.  Your
part is to vote, to formally register your preference alongside
mine in how these things should be handled.

The "but my vote doesn't count" argument only holds true if
you only look at yourself.  If ten million people believe that and
use that reason to not vote, when they would otherwise have
voted third party - well, if they had voted, people would not have
as strong a perception that third parties are nonviable, would
they?  You can lead by example - vote, and that may inspire
those who believe as you do to likewise vote.

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