Non-monopolistic government

November 12, 2008

Every form of government that exists today can be described very simply as a “territorial monopoly of coercion”. Let’s break that down. Each government lays claim to a particular clearly-defined territory (though this claim is sometimes in dispute with other governments). Territories may exist within a hierarchy, such as municipalities, within counties, within states or provinces, within nations. Each government within the hierarchy negotiates in some way the matters that they have ownership of, exclusive in whole or in part, from the other levels of government. Generally speaking, these matters are dealt with in an exclusive way, leading to a monopoly of control. The monopoly of control is appropriate if the government has an ownership of the matter. But that begs the questions: does it have ownership, and, if so, how did that right of ownership come about?

Let’s look at a municipality as an example. It claims the right of ownership over all land and natural resources not privately-owned. It also claims the right to oversee much about the privately held properties, as with building codes and zoning. It claims to have ownership rights over public services such as police, courts, fire, rescue, education (all compulsory levels), waste removal, streets, vital records, etc. It claims rights over licensing of various kinds, such as marriage, pet, and many others that relate to various businesses and forms of recreation. In reality, there appear to be no limits to what a government can lay claim. Insofar as you reside within the territory, you are subject to any and all rules and regulations that issue from the monopoly municipal government, and this of course holds true for county, state, and federal governments. In short, you may think you are your own person, but you are in fact owned by all the governments of the territories in which you reside. If you have any true freedoms, these are graciously bestowed on you by the governments who own you. If you feel I have gone too far in this description, that you truly own yourself, then willfully disobey any government who claims to own you and see how long your self-ownership lasts.

But surely, this is all for our good, right? Without government we would have chaos. You can’t just let everyone do what they want.

I am certainly not encouraging chaos. Neither am I saying that monopoly government is necessary. So what is the alternative. Well, non-monopoly government, of course. And that comes about by making government a business, where you choose your government rather than have government choose you.

How could this be done? Presently, municipalities collect various taxes and fees. Most collect some sort of property tax, a graduated tax based roughly on the value of the real estate you own within the territory. These funds get lumped together into a common fund that the mayor and municipal council distributes to various departments.

But consider this alternative of a non-monopolistic municipal government. Taxes are still collected, but allocated to political parties in the municipality according to the choice of the taxpayer made once a year. Here is the key to non-monopoly government: the taxpayer votes with cash. The departments of government become non-profit organizations, funded by the parties. The mayor becomes a figurehead, who represents the municipality at parades and the opening of shopping centers. The council, no longer needed, disappears entirely.

How is this better? There is no better way to get responsive government than to pay for it directly. This finally makes government Darwinian: if they fail, they die. If the particular party that has been receiving your taxes fails to satisfy you, they will know that they cannot count on having your tax dollars in their fund next year. And if there is disagreement within a party, a split occurs, and the money follows the party based on the choice of the taxpayer.

Some of the departments will remain much as they are, but others, with less need to exist (Darwin again) will cease to exist. And some, most certainly the schools, will be auctioned off to the various parties to be managed by them individually rather than as a single unit. They will find ways to cooperate to keep costs down (joint purchasing, for example), but will be independent for the most part, working for the interests of students and their parents — or else.

Non-monopolistic government is long overdue. But once it arrives, it will change everything. Can we actually create a non-monopolistic form of government? Yes we can! You betcha!

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4 Responses to “Non-monopolistic government”

  1. Bruce Graeme Says:

    “a graduated tax based roughly on the value of the real estate you own within the territory”

    For long-run prosperity, you should promote radical changes in taxation. Stop taxing labor, goods, production, and investment. Instead, just remove all the subsidies, such as to pollution, to farmers, and to land holding.

    Taxing land value and pollution, plus user fees, could provide sufficient revenue.

    Polluters are subsidized if they do not pay the social cost of their emissions, so tax pollution. Landowners are subsidized from the increase in their rent and land value due to public works and civic services. Tax land value to eliminate this subsidy. A land value tax will make the economy more productive, as the land-value subsidy promotes inefficient uses of land and the excessive speculation that results in the boom-bust sequence we are suffering from now.

    Also: establish sound money with free-market banking and stop the expansion of money by the Federal Reserve, and instead let banks issue private currency redeemable into Federal-Reserve-note money.

    With thanks to Fred Foldvary who has written extensively on the issue of Land Rent Taxation: http://www.progress.org/archive/foldvary.htm

  2. kritarchist Says:

    Bruce,

    According to natural law, no person or group has the right to take from another. Thus, taxes as a whole are contrary to natural law: they are theft. Is that a radical enough change in taxation for you?

    Clearly you do not believe in evolution and the survival of the fittest, but are in favor of Intelligent Design, as long as that refers to your own intelligence or some other intelligent creature like Fred Foldvary or Henry George. Natural law has its own intelligence behind it, far greater than that of any human being or group. But I can see you are a person who likes to tweak. Best of luck to you.

  3. Bruce Graeme Says:

    If all taxes are criminal qua natural law than you are absolutely wrong, since you say: “Taxes are still collected”

    Austrian-schoolers should embrace Foldvary’s/Georges’ proposal to eliminate all taxes other than on land value. First, all other taxes are worse. Second, once taxation is Georgified, it is a small step towards transforming this into homeowner associations financed by assessments based on land value. Georgism is the most effective path towards privatizing governance. And indeed, private communities finance their civic services exactly as George proposed, because it is efficient. George’s terminology is confused, but he did not oppose the private possession of land, indeed proposed full rights by the owner of the use and transfer of land.

    “The basic natural law of property is “to the creator belongs the creation.” A person has a natural right to his or her own labor and the creations of one’s labor, including goods one has exchanged. The owner of an enterprise has a moral right to do with his produced property what his pleases so long as it is peaceful and honest.”- Fred Foldvary

    cf. The Natural Laws of Economics – http://www.progress.org/2004/fold379.htm

  4. kritarchist Says:

    Bruce,

    When I said, ‘Taxes are still collected’, I was referring to an interim situation that would occur if a municipality were to transform itself into a non-monopolistic government, not a permanent situation. Once the structures were non-monopolistic, the “taxes” would in fact no longer be taxes.

    I believe individuals should be free to reject government individually and not necessarily as a group. My intention is not revolution which overturns the status quo, but rather that the intentions of individuals vis-a-vis any particular government be respected. I do not see that a municipality switching to a land value tax is a more direct path to kritarchy than the proposal I make in the original post to which these comments are attached.


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