Again, you are ignoring my analysis of the the invisible hand as it functions in the real world.
Eric Harris Bernstein

You don’t want your donors to use their donations to signal their demand for your specific content… because their priorities are wrong? When people go shopping for groceries… are their priorities wrong as well? If so, then why allow people to shop at all? Why allow people to decide whether they donate to the Roosevelt Institute (RI) or to Cato?

Do you see how quickly we got to the heart of the matter?

People donate to the RI because they are hungry for your content. But being all different, your donors don’t value all your content equally. They are hungrier for certain kinds of content. And you’re certain that they are hungrier for the wrong kinds of content.

And perhaps you see the RI as having a monopoly on relevant information. Kinda like the RI is the parent and the donors are very young children who are uninformed. Except this analogy doesn’t work because you’re not arguing that your donors are uninformed, you’re arguing that they are misinformed. They would demand the wrong kinds of content.

To be clear, it would be entirely optional for your donors to use their donations to signal their demand for your specific content. They would only choose this option if they have information which leads them to believe that some of your content is more valuable than other of your content.

By preventing donors from using their donations to signal the value of your content… you’re disregarding all the information that they have. How many people donate to the RI each year? 1000? 10,000? 100,000? Can you possibly comprehend how much information even 100 people have?

Admittedly, your donors aren’t experts like you. But they are all experts in some area. This is the consequence of the division of labor. I’m sure that your donors are doctors and professors and lawyers and teachers and plumbers and electricians and pilots and scientists and engineers and it’s probably a very long list. And it’s gotta be the case that your organization isn’t their only source of information.

What’s the total amount of articles that your donors read each day? How many podcasts do they listen to each day? How many hours of news do they listen to each day? How many books do they read each month? How many books do they write each year?

Your eager willingness to disregard all the information that your donors have in their heads is why you’re at RI instead of at Cato. Except, then again, even Cato doesn’t allow its donors to use their donations to signal the value of their specific content. Sadly, Cato is also willing to disregard all the information that its donors have.

Your mission at the RI is to inform people. But your donors are certainly already informed. Or else, why would they donate to the RI? And if you’re certain that your donors are misinformed then, well, clearly you’re failing at your mission. But how can you possibly succeed at your mission when you really don’t know which information your donors are missing?

Your real mission should be to inform people… and to be informed by people. It should be a two way street. Information should always be a matter of intercourse.

If your donors aren’t buying the “right” products (fruits and veggies)… then clearly you need to help them understand what it is, exactly, about these products that make them “right”. Conversely, if they are buying the “wrong” products (cigarettes and alcohol)… then clearly you need to help them understand what it is, exactly, about these products that make them “wrong”.

“Now that I humored you, I would love to hear how you respond to the broader societal challenge of monetizing every exchange and offering no rules or regulations to structure markets.”

Well… thanks to you humoring me, we’ve already got to the heart of the matter. So really there’s no need to address anything else if we can’t peacefully resolve the issue of your willingness to disregard all the information that your donors have in their heads.

But since you have been such a good sport then, at the risk of distracting you from the main issue, I will address some of your additional concerns.

I’m pretty sure that I never said that we don’t need rules. I’m pretty sure that I’m not an anarchist. I’m actually a pragmatarian. I believe that taxpayers should be free to choose where their taxes go.

If you have information that leads you to believe that drugs being illegal is a good and necessary and beneficial rule, then you’d have the freedom to spend your own tax dollars on the enforcement of this rule. The more money that taxpayers spend on the enforcement of this rule, the more it will be enforced.

So I have absolutely nothing against rules in general. What I want to know is just how valuable each and every rule truly is. I also want society’s limited resources to be allocated accordingly.

If society doesn’t think that the rule against jaywalking is very important, then there really shouldn’t be a cop on every corner enforcing this rule. The opportunity cost would be too high.

Therefore, the amount of resources allocated to any endeavor should reflect how strongly society cares about it. In other words, supply should reflect demand. In other words, society’s limited resources should be efficiently allocated.

To be clear, there’s a difference between an “efficient” allocation of resources and a “correct” allocation of resources. An allocation can be efficient without being correct.

Right now you don’t allocate any of your time and brains to promoting pragmatarianism. Because… pragmatarianism doesn’t match your preferences. This allocation is efficient… but obviously I don’t think it’s correct. Voila! Here I am endeavoring to correctly inform you. I’m supplying you with important information that you’re obviously missing.

If we created a market in the public sector then, unlike in the for-profit sector, it really wouldn’t be one-price-fits-all (OPFA). As a result, the signals would be more accurate. The supply in the public sector would more closely match the demand than the supply in the private sector. People would get more bang for their buck in the public sector. Therefore, people would want to spend more and more money in the public sector. The tax rate would go up, the public sector would expand and the private sector would shrink. Eventually the tax rate would be 100% and there wouldn’t be any private sector.

You would never have to buy oranges. Oranges would be free for everyone. If you ever felt that there weren’t enough oranges, then you’d use your tax dollars to signal this.

Admittedly, it isn’t the easiest thing to imagine a 100% tax rate with a market in the public sector. But I do know that more accurate signals result in a more relevant supply. I also know that people always want the supply to be more relevant. Everybody wants to be as happy as a kid in a candy store. Therefore, it’s pretty reasonable to conclude that creating a market in the public sector will increase the tax rate.

But it’s not like we need to immediately create a market in the public sector. Taxpayers are essentially subscribers. Netflix also has subscribers. So does Medium. The government really isn’t the only organization with subscribers. Lots of other organizations also have subscribers. They can give their subscribers the option to use their fees to signal the value of specific content. Then we’ll see if the organizations and their subscribers benefit from commerce as communication. I’m pretty sure that more communication is better than less communication… but I could be wrong.