Providing Public Services Peacefully
Extracted from the pre-released book Creating Peace and Abundance Through Stateless Economics by John G. Vibes.
The time has come to start thinking unconventionally when considering alternatives to our current methods of funding community projects. As it stands right now our civilization is at a huge disadvantage due to the method of coercive taxation that is used today. The force and violence involved with the collection of taxes is only scratching the surface of the negative consequences that this practice has on our society. There are many implications of coercive taxation that aren’t directly noticed by the general public, and these implications take a bit of hashing out to be fully understood.
Since the government is allowed to extract money from its citizens by the barrel of a gun, this guarantees that they will have funding for any kind of project they want, even if those projects are unpopular with taxpayers. This is because the public has no choice but to pay taxes, therefore they have no say in how their money is used and are typically forced into paying for their own oppression, and the slaughtering of their neighbors.
Sure, there are some social welfare programs that do benefit some people, but the money that these projects cost are a tiny fraction of the money that is actually received from taxation. Most of the money that is brought in through taxes is used for bureaucratic budgets, collection enforcement and the gluttony of federal and state governments. So, while a portion of the revenue is being used for beneficial projects, a majority of the money is still being wasted or used for nefarious means. Some researchers have described this as a thief giving you five dollars, while at the same time taking a hundred dollars from your back pocket.
One of the most common complaints about the government is that it does not serve the public as it claims to. The reason for this is simple: the government still gets paid no matter what happens, which means that they have no incentive to actually listen to the people who they are collecting taxes from. Likewise, the power imbalance between the state and citizen inevitably leads to mismanagement, violence and corruption.
On the other hand, if community projects were funded through voluntary means, people would not pay if they did not like what was being done with their money, thus either effectively collapsing a dictatorship or forcing the service provider to change their behavior. Under these circumstances wars would be prevented, everyone would have more money, small businesses would have an easier time competing in the marketplace, and trillions of dollars in wasted overhead would either be back with its rightful owners or used in beneficial social projects and programs.
If someone wanted to invade territories halfway around the world or put together an oppressive bureaucracy like the TSA, they would lose funding because no one would be willing to support them financially, making it impossible to fund these authoritarian measures. This process is in visible motion in the real world, within one of the most active industries on the planet — the food service industry. Most waiters and waitresses don’t get paid much by their employers, but actually make a majority of their money from the voluntary payments of pleased customers, which we know as a “tip”. Everyone knows and understands the concept of tipping, and when we get good service, most people have no problem sacrificing a few dollars voluntarily. This is the whole concept behind voluntarily funding community projects; good service will render payment from the public, poor service will not.
There is an unbelievable amount of fear directed at this concept, because for so long our
civilizations have been propelled by violence, instead of rationality. Immediately upon hearing about these ideas of doing away with coercive taxation, many people who are new to the idea will immediately scoff “if taxes were not collected under threat of force then no one will pay them and there will be chaos and the poor will die in the streets.”
This statement shows that taxation isn’t working for the average person, therefore ideas about “the consent of the governed” and “the social contract” are complete fallacies. If someone explicitly states that people wouldn’t pay taxes if they weren’t mandatory, they are then admitting that tax revenue is not used to benefit the public and that no one would pay if they didn’t have a gun to their head. Besides, don’t most of us leave a good tip when we get good service at a restaurant without having a gun held to our head or a bureaucrat hovering over our shoulders?
If tax revenue was put into projects that people found value in, then they would have no problem voluntarily contributing the money. Even if those projects didn’t benefit that individual directly, there is no doubt in my mind that people will be happy to contribute. Although our culture projects a pretty bleak concept of human nature, the vast majority of people are naturally good and care a great deal about their neighbors. Recent studies have even shown that compassion might be hard-wired into the human genome.
Reaffirming what Einstein articulately stated a long time ago: “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.” So while it is true that people are naturally driven by incentives, we still have empathy for our fellow human beings so we are also driven to help and enrich others. In fact, in 2010 people gave over 290.89 billion dollars to charity. Think about it, this is after they have already been mugged for half of their income by the government, and in the middle of the worst economic conditions since the great depression. Imagine how much they would have given had they been able to keep all of their income and had the reassurance of knowing that their money was actually being spent correctly.
These days confidence in charities is fairly low, and rightfully so, as many have succumbed to the corruption of our culture of dominance. However, this report on economicsjunkie.com suggests that an average of 80-85% of the money that is donated to charities actually ends up in the hands of the needy. This number definitely isn’t great, but let’s see how it matches up with their coercive taxation. That same report goes on to quote a number of sources who state the government takes over 70% of all tax revenue collected for their own public funds, salaries, military projects, and wasteful bureaucracies. Meanwhile less than 30% of the tax revenue that is taken from the public is actually spent on the public. So, in reality, even in today’s world with sub-par charities, those charities actually do far better than the government does when it comes to improving the condition and lives of those in need. These charities accomplish all of this on a voluntary basis, without threats, violence and tax collectors.
There is no need to force compassion, so anyone who claims to be doing so is most likely being disingenuous. The whole concept that the public benefits at all from taxation is just an elaborate advertising scheme that justifies its existence. Even Al Capone was smart enough to run soup kitchens in his local city of Chicago so people would overlook his crimes and see him as a charitable man. The government takes the same approach by spending some of their pocket change on welfare programs and community projects, but all of this is only done so they have some examples to point to when the taxpayers naturally want to know how their money was spent.
In a free society where public services and community projects were funded voluntarily there could be various different community groups that could get together to discuss what issues were important to the society overall. These meetings could be open to everyone and may or may not be mediated. They may act as brainstorming sessions where everyone was able to present their suggestions on what sorts of programs would be beneficial to society. Any suggestions would be tested against the non-aggression principle to ensure that this money was not used for nefarious purposes. Modern communication technology and Internet capabilities would help to organize these meetings, and they could take place at the individuals convenience. This could work sort of the same way a message board does, although I’m sure it would be far more complicated, but still you get the idea.
There could most likely be some basic programs that were essential to life that would always be receiving donations, and be available to everyone in the community, even those who did not donate for whatever reason. Since these areas were so vital to life, they would naturally always get the funding they needed because people pay without hesitation when they are actually getting something of value. For example, water treatment plants, fire fighters, or community gardens would probably be something that most would support through donations.
Beyond these basic necessities, a myriad of secondary programs and services from transportation or internet, to space exploration and the like would also be accepting voluntary donations from the community. Remember also that this would be so cheap in comparison to the prices that we see today on public projects, as a result of the lack of overhead and enforcement costs which inflate all bureaucratic budgets.
People may be concerned that it would be hard to achieve community goals on a voluntary basis, but this would actually improve the efficiency and value of public services. Nowadays many government funded jobs don’t even see completion! It is unbelievably common for Western governments to start popular programs during election years to gain public support, then later pull the plug so the funds can be used for wars or bailouts. This kind of manipulative behavior takes place all the time. However, when there is a project that has enough support, it will usually receive sufficient donations from individuals, businesses and charity organizations to keep the program operating. We saw this in the US just this past year, when the government pulled the plug on funding for the SETI space program in the midst of a half dozen wars and major austerity measures. This was a program that many people still wanted despite the government’s decision to cut funding. In fact, they wanted it around so badly that over 2,400 different donations were received in a single week, easily surpassing their goal of $200,000.
Now if we think about this same problem presenting itself in the free society that we are
discussing, we can easily assume that it can be solved in a similar fashion. Except this time around, there will be far less overhead and people will have far more to give to the cause, thus ensuring a greater success rate than we see today with social projects. If people stopped contributing to a certain program, that program would put out word to its supporters, much like SETI did, to raise the extra funds needed to carry on the project. This is the wonderful thing about how our species self-organizes and uses their intelligence and resources to solve problems that they are presented with.
Another very basic example that is often brought up is “what about roads?” Many people have this simplistic idea that the government builds the roads. However, this statement is not entirely accurate. What the government really does is collects money from private citizens under the threat of violence, then uses that money to employ those very same citizens to build infrastructure that they could have built themselves for less if they just kept their money and got together with their neighbors. In other words, if they just cut out the middle man.
While we are on the subject of roads, there was a perfect example of this very situation that occurred a few years back on Hawaii’s Kauai Island, when private citizens performed $4 million road repair job for free in 8 days. When a need arises in a community, people naturally come together and take care of what needs to be done; they don’t need someone with a gun in their face telling them how to do it. For our species to have any chance on this earth, we must start thinking about more peaceful ways of going about things, and stop justifying the use of violence in all circumstances, even soft-core violence like legislation, taxation and indoctrination.
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he is also the owner of a successful music promotion company. In 2013, he became one of the organizers of the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance at bookpatch.com.
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