I’d like to offer a challenge to Americans during this government shutdown: be mindful of how little your life is impacted by it.
Even more: think about all the money you pay in taxes every year. What else could you do with that money? Could it compensate for the inconvenience you’ve suffered as a result of the government being closed?
Voluntaryism is a philosophy, most compatible with laissez-faire capitalism or anarcho-capitalism in which public goods and services are funded on a voluntary basis. For most of us, this sounds like a preposterous notion; the concept of government as a necessity is hard-wired into our psyche. But for every public good provided by the government (roads, emergency services, military, education), there are practical private models, and I won’t go into detail about them here for this discussion.
How could we ever go from welfare capitalism to a voluntary anarcho-capitalism? The answer is actually relatively simple. On this page, I offered a survey that asked how you would prefer to allocate your tax dollars, if given the opportunity to choose. A choose-where-your-tax goes society is a put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is democracy that effectively privatizes the public sector.
Think about it: taxpayers, not politicians, would decide what’s important, and what consequently gets funded. So what if something important gets horribly underfunded? If it negatively affects enough of the population, they’ll correct the mistake next year. Soon, all public services would consist of organizations that have to work hard for taxpayers money, as opposed to the sloppy shitshow most government organizations are (see here for the theoretical argument as to why a fixed income destroys productivity). Eventually, government would dissolve as all public services become either privatized or voluntary.
So how then, would we transition from our current society to one in which taxpayers choose where their taxes go? What government would ever agree to do this? The answer is again relatively simple: proprietist evolution.
While large employers remove income tax from their employees’ checks, self employed people have to submit their taxes to the IRS. Free agents voluntarily give up a portion of their earnings either because they believe in paying taxes, or because they don’t want to be audited and reprimanded for not doing so. If these independent workers (as much as 40% of the workforce) were to join forces, they could themselves vote on tax dollar allocation using means similar to the survey. The free agent nation could then tell the government:
We the proprietists represent $709,045,266.30 of your total tax revenue. [I made this number up of course]. We believe that this portion of the total tax dollars the government spends this year should be allocated as follows:
[Here would be a list of the free agent’s tax dollar allocation]
$212,076,388.10 on education
$89,209,260.55 on military
$11.00 on welfare
$160,052,979.45 on infrastructure
[…and so on]
Failure to agree to the above allocation will result in our systematic voluntary evasion of taxes, and a $709,045,266.30 loss of revenue to the United States government.
Can you imagine trying to bust 60 million people for evading taxes? Now that would be a government shutdown!