Description

Sam Hammond returns to the podcast today to discuss the free market welfare state. He and Will Wilkinson have both written articles in this area recently, and we discuss some of the concepts they bring up.

People tend to think of government functions on a one-dimensional spectrum with “big government” on one end and “small government” at the other. Sam points out that the welfare state is separable from the other functions of government (regulation, command and control, protectionism, etc.). Not only is this true in theory, but it is played out in practice, with Nordic countries having very large welfare states as well as high economic freedom.

We discuss some of the problems with current welfare states and some ways to improve them.

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discussions

  • What role (if any) should the gov’t play in the continued funding of cutting-edge scientific research? According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and  Development), approximately 10% of all R&D conducted globally is directly funded by governments, with approximately 60% done by private industry and 20% by educational institutions. Granted, this number probably doesn’t take into account indirect gov’t funding through tax subsidies and incentives. That 10% goes towards projects on the cutting edge of science, such as NASAs various space ventures and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (funded through the governments of the member states). Proponents of big gov’t science, such as Neil Degrasse Tyson, have stated in the past that projects like these are unlikely to be privately funded due to their high risk, high cost, and lack of return on investment. Gov’t, claims Tyson, is required to make the initial step and take all the risk so that private firms can follow in its wake with a clear picture of the requirements of such endeavours. TAM 2011: Our Future in Space Would such high risk, high cost projects be possible without gov’t backing?

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  • Does this list have anything else that could be added to it? The goal is to have a checklist that could be used to check any article on the topic. I would guess most people on this site are aware that arbitrarily raising the cost of labor isn’t the best way to help workers.

    Jump to Discussion Post 2 replies
  • The “Tax Honesty” movement has demonstrated a few things to a lot of people.  To cover a lot with a few words, I’ll put it this way:  The IRS breaks its own rules in order to rob us through deceit. Some people (Irwin Schiff, for example) have suffered because they attempted to protect themselves from the rule-breakers.  There is now a theory popular among liberty-minded people that the government is too corrupt and powerful for anyone to succeed in an effort like Irwin Schiff’s.  There is also some good evidence showing this theory to be wrong.  It’s available at Peter Hendrickson’s website, losthorizons.com. I think that a lot of bureaucrats feel and believe that they are helping society.  This leaves them open to consider fixing situations in which their bureaucracy is breaking its own rules.  And let’s face it, there are some rules that can actually help liberty.  Perhaps the loads of evidence that Hendrickson has on his site can be explained by the presence of such “good-hearted” individuals in the bowels of the IRS. In any case, if you can, please entertain the possibility that the US Income Tax is not being administered honestly.  Consider that maybe, just maybe, in the gargantuan tangle of words called “Title 26,” the legal meaning of the law as it applies to most people is not coercive at all.  Maybe, if it were properly applied, the government would be a nuisance like neighbors who let their dogs poop on your lawn, instead of a nuisance like cancer in your lungs.  It could be true.  I think it is true, and I think that failing to follow all the twists and turns that Hendrickson uncovered to see for yourself that it is true kind of justifies you still being enslaved to a government that steals from you in order to cause havoc all over the planet in a massive deception that justifies its existence. If we want to honor the goodness in all people, including those who have been tricked into serving evil, we can do so by understanding the rules they think they should be following, and using them to protect ourselves from enslavement.

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  • It can be a challenge to keep up with all the taxes one needs to pay throughout the year, and than to deal with all the paperwork that needs to be filed can be frustrating. What would be a good way to simplify the Tax Code? Below is a list of some of the taxes that we the people need to pay, or at least we experience their effects at one time or another. -Medicare, Medicare, Social Security, Federal Inocme Tax, State tax, Local Tax, Corporate tax, Sales Tax, Property Tax, estate tax, alcohol tax, tobacco tax, gift tax, tariffs on imports and exports, etc. Would a simple flat or consumption tax do the trick?

    Jump to Discussion Post 2 replies
  • Hello! My name is Mark, I’m a student, and I’m new to Liberty.me.   One thing I would like to discuss with you guys is how to persuade those around us that the current welfare state is immoral and wrong, and that we should do away with it by replacing it with private institutions. Advocating this position has been especially difficult for me as a student, as there is a plague of left-wing/socialist approval from my fellow students on campus. They say people such as myself are “the enemy” because we “don’t care about the poor/don’t want to help those in dire need of assistance/are happy for people to suffer”.   They won’t even have the common decency to listen to my opinions without interrupting me. It also doesn’t take a rookie to realise that these people care more about personal security than individual liberty. Nevertheless the question I want to ask is this- How should we make the case to people that the libertarian belief in private institutions (families, friends, communities, charities, aid organisations etc) works more efficiently than the welfare state, and is morally superior to it?

    Jump to Discussion Post 4 replies