Why I am not a Liberaltarian
Eli Dourado

“liberaltarianism is better than pure leftism because it acknowledges some parts of economic reality”

Great sentence! Although… it is kinda interesting to imagine liberaltarianism as the gateway drug to economic reality. Gateway drugs to good things have to be highly underrated.

My question is… if you’re interested in fully acknowledging/accepting/appreciating/admiring economic reality… then why aren’t you a pragmatarian?!

Economic reality is… well… I enjoyed your story without paying for it. In other words… my sacrifice to your story was less than my valuation of it…

sacrifice < valuation

The economic reality of this economic reality is that society’s limited attention/brainpower will not be efficiently allocated. Your story’s value signal will be marginally less bright than it should be so it will attract marginally less attention/brainpower than it truly should.

If we want to fully acknowledge/accept/appreciate/admire economic reality then the solution would be to apply the pragmatarian model to Medium. Each month we’d pay $1 dollar… but we’d have the freedom to choose which stories we spend our pennies on. Then I might as well spend a few pennies on your story!

sacrifice = valuation

Voila! Accurately bright value signals! Voila! The efficient allocation of Medium’s limited attention/brainpower!

Then what? Then The Economist would finally actually understand the importance of the Invisible Hand. Subscribers would be given the freedom to use their fees to reveal/show/communicate their valuation of The Economist’s articles…

The Economist. Please continue following this debate. — AlecFahrin

Once The Economist understands the importance of the Invisible Hand… then Reason would be next…

Radley Balko would be able to spend as many of his pennies as he wanted on the articles which most closely matched his preferences.

Once The Economist and Reason have figured out the importance of the Invisible Hand… then Netflix would be next. Subscribers would be able to spend their fees on the content that they most highly value. Truly valuable shows would never be canceled!

Once it becomes obviously beneficial to give some subscribers (Medium, The Economist, Reason and Netflix) the freedom to choose where their fees go… then it will become obviously beneficial to give all subscribers the freedom to choose where their fees go. “Subscribers” of the government (aka taxpayers) will then be given the freedom to choose where their “fees” (taxes) go.

In theory, this “gateway drug” strategy should entirely eliminate your practical concern…

My practical objection is, simply stated, “You can’t get there from here.”

Simply stated, “The obstacle that prevents us from getting there from here is that people can’t see the Invisible Hand. Once people can clearly see the Invisible Hand here… then they will clearly understand the benefit of having the Invisible Hand everywhere. Voila! We get there from here!”

The “minor” detail is that I’m having a bit of difficulty getting Medium to try the gateway drug. It’s sort of a catch-22. Medium isn’t going apply the Invisible Hand if it can’t see it. But Medium can only see the Invisible Hand if it applies it!

Medium is out of my range of effectiveness!

Fortunately, my friend Michelle is not outside my range of effectiveness. Fairly recently I managed to persuade her to apply the Invisible Hand to her 4th grade public school class. So far her class has created three departments…

  1. Gardening Department
  2. Animal Department
  3. IRS

Yesterday was the first time that the students were able to allocate their taxes…

Those aren’t dollars… they’re pennies!

That’s the Invisible Hand!!! Can you see it? It wasn’t Michelle deciding how their taxes were spent… it was her students on their own deciding where to put their taxes.

In this pragmatarian classroom… the point of the IRS isn’t to collect taxes. The students give their taxes directly to the departments. So the only point of the IRS to ensure that the students are paying what they owe. In other words, the point of the IRS is to try and prevent cheating. Evidently it turns out that preventing cheating is somewhat more important to the students than having a pet in their classroom… which is a lot less important than having more plants in their classroom/school.

The taxes were generated by Michelle auctioning off quotes from my collection. So far she’s auctioned off around 20 quotes. The student who makes the highest bid wins the quote and gets to decide which department to give his/her money to.

Each department is run by a student who was selected via coasianism (spending rather than voting). The students in charge of the departments will be able to decide how to spend their revenue. The next two departments that the class plans on creating are for books and food.

Christmas is coming up. In previous years, Michelle has asked the students to each bring in $5 dollars to help pay for their Christmas party. She’s always given the $5 dollars back to the students as a gift and paid for their Christmas party herself. It usually costs her around $100 dollars.

When Michelle and I were talking a few days ago, we brainstormed the idea of giving her students the opportunity to divvy up their $5 dollars among the different departments. She mentioned something about still spending her $100 dollars on the class party. I told her that doing so would be the equivalent of her giving $100 dollars to the Food Department. Of course it would be her prerogative to do so… but if her goal in doing so was to make her students happy… then if she truly wants to maximize their happiness… then she might first consider how the students themselves spend their own taxes.

In all the previous years Michelle gave her $100 dollars to the Food Department. Of course the Food Department didn’t officially exist… but she essentially gave her $100 dollars to it anyways. The kids were definitely happy to have a pizza party… but the question is whether they would have been happier to have more books, pets or plants.

Sure I’d love to eat king crab legs, lobster and filet mignon a lot more often. But I don’t do so because I’m not willing to sacrifice the alternative uses of my limited money. Economic reality is all about 1. individually valuating the alternative uses of our own limited resources… and 2. ensuring that our spending decisions accurately reflect/reveal/show/communicate our true valuations.

Libertarianism partially ignores economic reality. Somehow… defense, courts and police are exceptions to economic reality. Anarcho-capitalism also partially ignores economic reality. It ignores the economic reality of the free-rider problem.

So if you truly want to fully acknowledge/accept/appreciate/admire economic reality… then why aren’t you a pragmatarian?