Re: you're not funding *that* with *my* taxes!

John Clark (
Fri, 13 Nov 1998 13:09:15 -0500

Hash: SHA1

Damien Broderick <>

>it would be refreshing to be allowed to nominate your own preferences
>concerning which pork gets barrelled.

In other words it would be refreshing if the market was allowed to operate freely.

>But since that option is not likely to be made available

I'm not so sure, they used to say slavery was a permanent human institution too.

>why not recognise that some proportion of people favor state-funded
>abortion (or space science) and notionally a part of their tax can be
>ascribed to such use.

But except for receiving a healthy percentage of the action what's the purpose of the government middleman in all this? If I want to help poor people get abortions or help space science I can do so directly with private charities.

>A different proportion of the voters wants to fund orphanages
>for hapless bastards, and an equivalent part of their tax goes there.
>Obvious such segmentation is rough & ready, but I suspect it might
>reflect the underlying reality

I think the underlying reality is that there is no reason to expect government to engage in projects that help most people most of the time, it's much more likely that they'd do things that help a very few people a lot but is slightly harmful to most. When the number of such projects becomes large the harm is no longer slight.

If I want to make $10,000, there are two ways to go about it, I can work to repeal hundreds of special interest laws, each one costing me a few dollars, or I can lobby for the passage of one more special interest law that will give me and my friends $10,000 and cost everybody else a dollar or two. The second method makes much more sense, it's far easier to pass one law than to repeal hundreds and it's better public relations too. If a take a dollar from a thousand people by force and then give one of them $500 I have 999 people who are indifferent or only slightly angry and one person who is overjoyed and forever grateful for my magnificent generosity. The politician is happy too, he likes the campaign contribution I made and he likes even more the fact that he's made a powerful friend. Most people don't have the time, inclination or ability to engage in lobbying on that scale so most people get the shaft.

This sort of lobbying won't work in the free market. If I want an executive at Microsoft to be promoted to a position of greater power there is only one thing I can do to help that come about, purchase the product that the executive has been advocating. Bribery will help the executive's bank account but it will not help his chances for advancement, it will hurt it because his boss will note that his decisions have been poor and do not made economic sense. The stockholders will note the same thing.

>except for space travel and astronomy, where probably *most* people
>bitterly resent having to pay for any part of that goddamned pointy
>headed science bullshit boondoggle.

I try to be consistent so I'm unable to defend the idea that people should be forced to pay for things they don't want even if John Clark happens to think those things are admirable.

John K Clark

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