We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“There’s a cost for everything. And the ultimate payer of every cost imposed by government is not only the individual member of the mass of taxpayers who does not benefit from the scheme, but likely, also, its intended beneficiaries (cf., welfare, busing, affirmative action, urban planning).

The Secret Knowledge, David Mamet, Page 60. (Published by Sentinel, 2011.)

6 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • CaptDMO

    Pretty sure the prevailing points made by “The Secret Knowledge” are that
    1. I (Mamet) failed to grow up until much too late in life.
    2. There is NO “secret knowledge”.
    Of course, I could be wrong.
    I COULD have been influenced by Frank Zappa’s (auto?) biography.

  • Like theft, the net cost of government transfers to the community is greater than its net benefit to the bureaucrats who administer them and the people who receive them, and can be much much greater. However, also like theft, it is possible – and far more often, it appears possible – for some individuals to receive net benefit. And (again very like theft) these individuals can be unconcerned at the wider costs, so long as they expect to benefit themselves. Finally, in yet another point of similarity with theft, it is in the interest of these people to conceal some details of these unconsensual transactions – so awareness of the OP’s point is hindered.

    I agree that, just as many a thief at the end of a misspent life is obviously also a greater net loser from it than any one of his many victims, so a recipient of state aid can end up more harmed than any one taxpayer from whom the money was taken. But I’m not so sure that applies to the administering bureaucrats.

  • pete

    In a democracy the people impose the government upon themselves by choosing it at election time. Therefore taxes are self-imposed.

    People will vote for governments which will spend much of their own tax money on them, rather than on those in genuine need of help.

    That’s just self-interest, a part of human nature, not a problem with government.

  • John B

    No free lunches.

    People assume that they will receive benefits from the State greater than the cost of taxation to them, because they are unaware that for every £1 of tax collected only 75p is spent on the taxpayer. The 25p is lost on administration and economic deadweight cost.

    Furthermore it is assumed that redistribution is from top down, whereas it is also from bottom up, because no tax system in which all members of a society pay tax somehow, is able to determine the final destination of the tax collected. And it is unreasonable to suppose that Government will only take somebody else’s money to spend on you, and not take your money to spend on somebody else for political gain.

    Poor people subside the not-poor and would be better off if they were left out of the tax system altogether, both as a payer and a beneficiary.

  • Paul Marks

    Good post.

  • Runcie Balspune

    A classic example is why do public sector workers pay tax, all they are doing is giving it back again, the entire process could be streamlined by paying a reduced tax-free wage? You can save on the army of pen-pushers (themselves paid by tax) who administer the scheme. Same could be done on any sub-contracted government work by private companies.

    Is there actually a viable reason it is not done this way?

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