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The Power of Charity over Taxation


This post is in response to a question, rather an assertion being brought up that suggested libertarian beliefs by principle, pushing the value of individual liberties, would inherently lead to people letting others suffer. The statement based this notion on the idea that there are no forced programs (through taxation) that are designed to help those in need including the elderly, the sick, the poor, those in need of education, etc... No, We Don’t Stand by and Watch People Suffer

The suggestion that championing individual liberties by libertarians would lead to just letting people suffer, in essence, is incredibly misguided. Libertarians also believe in the power of charity, which is much more efficient and productive than any bureaucratic government tax sinkhole. The key component of charity, with regards to libertarianism, is that it is VOLUNTARY. No one is forced to give, however, no one currently is forced to give to charity yet many many do into efficient programs that actually help far more than the government. Just a quick and contemporary example of how charity can in fact serve as a solution, (I saw this posted by a friend, so I am not going to take all credit, though I did fix the math) if everyone who participated in the Woman's March (~3.2 million1) donated just $156-165 per year each which is pretty insignificant amount, only like $13-14 a month, they could easily privately and fully fund Planned Parenthood to the same level the government is already doing, which is ~$500 million a year. Many libertarians are pro-choice and support what Planned Parenthood does, but we believe that government should not fund ANY private organizations with tax dollars extorted from the people. In the libertarian ideology, we eliminate an entire layer of money lost through mismanagement in extensive government bureaucracy, and it is applied much more efficiently and effectively. Plus, with the extent of the mismanaged and wasted tax dollars saved by each individual, it would be far more affordable for them to afford charitable donations that support their convictions which, if strong enough, they will not hesitate to do. Even with high mismanaged taxes in the United States, in 2015 Americans donated ~$373.25 billion to charity2; imagine the increase if people had more in their pockets.

Changing Human Behavior Doesn’t Need Government Regulation

Within the original statement, it was suggested that government programs and regulations are a necessity for changing unhealthy human behavior such as smoking, unhealthy eating, drug use, etc. However, logically, education is the only real way the effectively change human behavior. Banning, restricting, or regulating (through taxes) an item doesn't make the demand any lower, it just shifts the demand to a black market. Supply and demand is a real thing and if the supply is restricted, the demand still exists. That is the primary fuel for establishing extensive black markets, which are FAR more dangerous, as with unlawful situations comes unlawful behavior. Black markets in turn are the primary fuel for violence; gangs competing through violence over drug territory is a great example. Another example is the cigarette black market in New York. After the institution of an insane cigarette tax in New York City making a pack of cigarettes cost more than $10 a pack3, the black market gained power as the demand shifted, which is what led to the wrongful death of Eric Garner (“I can’t breathe”), simply for selling unregulated cigarettes. Or, New Yorkers are stocking up outside of NYC in order to bypass the excessive taxes anyway3, but either way the demand just shifted to be supplied by a different market. So back to the education factor as I mentioned at the beginning of this section. Private organizations funded through voluntary donations are far more efficient at providing that education and helping those who need it, again skipping the bureaucratic layer of waste in government. If people are educated and aware, they are much less likely to make unhealthy personal decisions, however, the right (personal liberty) for them to make those decisions still exists. But instead we live in a country where one can go to jail for selling unregulated ceviche... let that sink in.

We Are Also Not Ignoring Societal Problems

The statement was made, "it [libertarian ideals] ignores major problems of security, an aging population, health issues, education, infrastructure needs, space exploration and everything else associated with modern times," is also a very misleading suggestion. Every factor in that list could be solved FAR more efficiently through charitable donations, personal responsibility, OR paid services to private organizations in a free market, that also inherently regulates the cost to make it all actually affordable. I did want to give an even more detailed response to the "space exploration" component, because it was called out specifically and a great example already exists. Today we see a private organization making more progress in just a couple years than NASA has made in decades. That private organization is SpaceX4, founded by Elon Musk, the same innovator who founded Tesla, an automotive company making incredibly successful leaps and bounds outside of the tradition car market, which is also an example of how competition and innovation lead an entire market to shift to be able to keep up. Every major car company is now building or trying to build efficient and safe electric cars in order to keep up with Tesla, which even inadvertently is helping the environment and slowing down climate change. Back to space exploration; SpaceX has created much safer, more efficient, and affordable space travel components than NASA ever has, all funded by capitalism. It is necessary to say again, because repetition helps understanding, skipping the wasteful bureaucracy of government institutions and taxation. In fact, due to the efficiency of private organizations, NASA as almost completely abandoned its space travel platform research and development to just contract commercial companies to transport Astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Thanks for reading and sharing,

The Troubled Free Thinker

Sources

  1. https://news.vice.com/story/womens-march-turnout-is-at-3-2-million-and-counting

  2. https://givingusa.org/giving-usa-2016/

  3. http://nypost.com/2015/12/27/cigarette-tax-revenue-plunges-as-smokers-buy-outside-new-york/

  4. http://www.spacex.com/

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