Another great thing about the Internet: because it knocks down the gatekeepers of approved opinion, non-mainstream opinions suddenly have a fighting chance of being heard.
And arguments that our betters have long assured us are closed (because all respectable people share their view, you see) are suddenly being forced open again.
For example, next week’s Soho Forum debate is over whether all government assistance to higher education should be abolished.
I’m sure the left thought that battle had been won long ago. (In fact, I’m sure most people don’t even know what the arguments in favor of such a position could possibly be, apart from mere misanthropy.) And here they are having to fight it.
Just recently, they’ve had to start acknowledging the “taxation is theft” argument.
I have a friend who supports “limited government” who’s at least honest about it: taxation is theft, he says, but unfortunately we need a little theft for civilization to survive.
Well, whether we do or we don’t, a European philosopher named Philip Goff thinks he’s dealt a crushing blow to libertarian arguments against taxes.
It’s not theft if it didn’t rightfully belong to you in the first place, he says.
By what theory of moral desert does a basketball player, for example, earn so much more than a teacher? According to Goff, this kind of disparity reflects poorly on the market economy:
Probably you work very hard in your job, and you make an important contribution. But then so do most people, and the market distribution of wealth patently does not reward in proportion to how hard-working people are, or how much of a contribution they make to society. If we were just focusing on desert, then there is a good case for taxation to correct the amoral distribution of the market.
Goff makes a bunch of arguments like these.
We swat them down in the most recent episode of my sister podcast, Contra Krugman:
By the way, I shower random benefits on members of my Supporting Listeners program from time to time. Here’s the latest: the Mises Institute is having an event in Fort Worth on June 2, featuring (among other speakers) Soviet defector Yuri Maltsev. It’s normally $60 to attend, but if you join (or are already a member of good standing in) my Supporting Listeners program, you get in for free.
Let me know if you’d like to attend — send a note to email@example.com and I’ll get you set up!