Friday, July 07, 2006

Debbie and Mike disagreeing...

First of all, I want to thank Debbie for visiting this blog and stating her views in such a well though out and interesting fashion! I believe in intelligent discourse and I enjoy it!

I have copied some relevent material from a post I made a couple of days ago and the responses that Debbie and I have bantered back and forth. It is copied below. Debbie is in red and Mike is in purple.

From Mike
Please answer this question for me Debbie:

Why does the LP have a plank that advocates ZERO taxation when the Constitution provides for both government and taxation?

From Debbie
Mike, libertarian philosophy is not based upon the constitution. It has to do with the non-aggression principle. Libertarians simply take the "golden rule" ethic and apply it to governments as well as individuals. If it is theft for an individual to take another individual's money by force then it is also theft for a government to do so (because government is a collection of individuals). Therefore, taxation is theft and that is why libertarians would advocate for no taxation as the ultimate goal.

From Mike
I certainly think all Libertarian philosophy SHOULD be based on The Constitution. It is the founding document for this country and is a great document that should be heeded. I think that many of our Founding Father's were Libertarians.

The Constitution advocates smaller government and less intrusion in our lives. I am a Libertarian who believes that the most important Libertarian goals are smaller government and less intrusion in our lives... (I do not believe in no government or no intrusion, I am not an anarchist)

I think force must be used in some situations.

For example, if someone breaks into my house and I perceive ANY threat to my family I plan on using deadly force the first time. That is why I own and practice with my handgun.

For example, if the Government ever were to start implementing policies similar to Hitler or Stalin I would certainly be willing to protect my property and my family by initiating the use of force if needed.


Mike Sylvester


Doug said...

I don't think libertarianism as a philosophy necessarily relies on the Constitution. I think the Constitution incorporates many principles of libertarianism (whether or not that philosophy was yet articulated at the time of the Framing.)

I tend to think the Constitution provides for a more realistic form of government than a pure libertarianism would. If in doubt, err on the side of libertarian principles, but sometimes I don't think there is much doubt.

Taxation is necessary to provide for, among other things, the common defense. An aggressive civilization without many high-minded ideals would steamroll a civilization based purely on libertarianism. Citizens of the libertarian society would be expected to act in their own long-term self interest and donate to the common defense for their own self-preservation. But, presumably there would be large numbers that didn't perceive a threat until it was too late or simply freeloaders who wanted to coast behind the contributions of others.

I think most libertarians are cool with the use of force, if necessary, to defend against the aggression of others in infringing on property rights or the right to be secure in one's person.

Robert Enders said...

In the case of a Hitler or Stalin-like figure taking control of a government, it is NOT "intiation of force" to act against that government but a justified responce to an intiation of force by that government.

Anonymous said...

The plank advocating no taxation, in my humble opinion, is a *stretch goal*, that is, it could take 50 or 100 years to achieve.

Why not base libertarian philosophy on the Mexican Constitution? It is absurd to think all libertarians are Americans. The Constitution is a set of rules that our government is supposed to abide by, individuals ought not feel constrained by what they read in it, unless they are government agents. Until Americans demand that their public servants behave as required by that great document, we will get what we deserve, good and hard. Signed, one of the two radicals...

Mike Kole said...

Anon: You just ununciated the problem with the platform. It speaks to the end-point we would like to see us reach, rather than our plan for today's implementation.

Personally, I call for a 1% budget cut, because it is not radical. It is something that can be done. You'd think that with Republicans in the governor's office and controlling House & Senate, this would get done. No will there, alas.

Non-Libertarians see the end-points and see trouble for them. Imagine the family with four kids in school that sees the Libertarian advocating an end of public education, effective tomorrow. That means about $40,000 out of pocket to that family, so they have to vote against Libertarians.

Taking incremental positions, such as the eliminating the palacial aspects to school sports facilities is a reasonable place to start. It does scale things back, and does show that Libertarians aren't out to slash and burn.

Personally, I hate the more or less permanent nature of the LP platform. If you want timelessness, go to a mission statement or statement of principles. If you want a declaration of positions, make it pertinent to this election cycle only, with a clear roadmap for the Libertarian vision for dealing with the biggest problems of the day.

Debbie said...

What do I think?

1. I think I should be purple and Mike should be in red. :)

2. I always wonder why people who think we are not following the constitution still put so much faith in it. If we are not following it, then it's not working too well is it? Plus there's that pesky "general welfare" clause. Has anyone read No Treason, The Constitution Of No Authority by Lysander Spooner?

3. To Mike Kole: I think your education example is a perfect one to show how libertarians certainly can take hard stances and should do the hard work required in doing so. Anyone who thinks they would need $40,000 to educate their kids if the K-12 government funding were eliminated has not thought it through and it would be our job to help them do so. But we will not get the opportunity if no one sticks their neck out and says government really shouldn't be involved in education.

Mike Kole said...

Debbie: Walk me through your explanation to the family with four kids. Keep in mind that they rent, so they won't be seeing a break in property taxes.

Debbie said...

Debbie: Walk me through your explanation to the family with four kids. Keep in mind that they rent, so they won't be seeing a break in property taxes.

Well, Mike, first of all I might ask them if they think their landlord does not pass on his costs to his renters. :)

Now they might say, well just because he would save on property taxes doesn't mean he would suddenly give us a break. In which case you could say, that might be right, but I bet other landords who want some business would and would use it as a selling point. So the competition would allow them to either get the break from their current owner or just move to a better deal.

Now I might be heading down a different road because the discussion may stay on property taxes if I had to begin this way. But I only did that because you felt the need to insert that detail.

But if we did move back to education and the $40,000, I would point out that it only takes that much because the government has interfered in the process. It's not that big a deal to educate a kid, but the government has made people think it is.

There's a lot of economic discussion that would go into this talk. I would explain to them how freeing up money lets individuals and groups spend it in a variety of other ways, some of which are unpredictable. There are a lot of good teachers out there and the really smart ones will find ways to market their expertise and will band together with others to offer a wide variety of things to people. Families would realize they could teach their kids a lot of things and simply find others to teach what they can't.

The beauty of talking about education possibilities is we have a microcosm of what it might be like in the homeschooling community. There are literally countless ways a family can get their child educated. And it doesn't cost $40,000.

But often, in the end, the real concern of many families isn't even the education aspect of it, it's the daycare aspect. They just can't imagine having to pay someone to take care of their kids while they go to work. They feel like they are saving money once the kid gets school age. The irony is that they don't seem to realize that they are paying way more than it would if they worked out the best situation that fits their individual needs. You can also tell those families who'd love to have a parent at home with them to look at all the new opportunities there would be to do that because many families will be looking for a place to send their kids.

I haven't even gotten into many details at all here yet, because I'm not having a real conversation and hearing the objections from the individual I'm talking to, but I hope this helps a bit.

Bartleby said...

$10K / year / child for private school???

My kids went to private school, and I can report that that number's high by a factor of three ... even if you're not considering the home-schooling alternative.

William Larsen said...

The public school system is funded by property taxes, state and local taxes as well as federal income taxes. Do parents pay the full cost of their children’s education in public schools?

If we evaluate a family making $50,000 a year and paying property taxes of $1,500 a year, how much along with federal income taxes, state and local taxes go to support education? A family today has two children. The educational cost per year per child in public schools is about $5,500. This means this family if they paid for their children’s education would be contributing $11,000 a year in taxes dedicated to education. It is obvious the family making $50,000 a year does not contribute $11,000 in taxes per year.

How much does the family’s total taxes paid go towards education. Using my knowledge of percentage of revenues are dedicated to education, I have estimated the cost of education. I estimate the family’s contribution towards public education at about $2,168 per year. However, since this family has two children, the contribution rate per child is $1,084 per year. We show a shortfall of $4,416 in the first year for just one child. Based on a 3.5% bond rate for schools, at graduation, the parents are behind $88,045 per child.

However, the parents continue to pay these taxes long after their children leave school. At what point does the outstanding balance get paid off? Ironically, it takes until about age 86 to 87 to pay back in full the cost of one child’s education.

Our public education is basically aromatized over our lifetime. Few parents pay enough taxes over their life times to pay for all their children’s education. My view is that each of use accrue a debt for our public education. This debt is then aromatized over our lifetime. Our parents did not pay for our education, but repaid the cost of their own education. That money was used to loaned to us to fund our education. The taxes we pay towards education is used to repay our debt and loaned to our children.

Robert Enders said...

The best solution for the short term is to cut administrative costs. With administrative costs running at %40, the public school systems are a little top heavy.

Debbie said...

William I am not at all clear on your point. I understand you to be saying that by paying taxes for education, each individual is paying back a loan and we pay our whole lives because that's how long it takes to pay it off.

If so, then what about the people who were never educated by the state?

They would have no debt to pay off, so why are they paying?

Again, I do not understand your point. Are you defending the paying of education taxes for a lifetime?

Debbie said...

What specifically would you cut? Just saying administrative costs does not give enough information. What criteria would you look at when making the decision on what to cut and what to keep? And in a relatively non competitive arena, how would you judge whether or not your cuts not only saved money but also created better and more efficient education?

LP Mike Sylvester said...


Next time you can be whatever color your heart desires!

We SHOULD be following The Constitution. Out Country would be much better if that were the case!

Mike Sylvester

Andrew Kaduk said...

I think with a close examination of the "administrative costs," you'd find that "No Child Left Behind" is keeping the logs on their little fire with absurd amounts of redundant testing and paperwork...

William Larsen said...

Debbie, what I was trying to point out that the $40K education bill is not based on any analysis. I was also attempting to show how the cost of education is a lifetime cost, not just for the period of time you have children in school. Many seniors are complaining they pay for education through taxes, yet their children are out of school.

Indiana appears to have a higher percentage of home taught and private school students. I am not sure of the exact percent, but I believe I have seen it presented at about 11%. This means about 11% of the funding for public schools in the future will be paid by these students. The parents who choose to not send their children to public schools, but who attended public schools themselves still theoretically owe on their education.

William Larsen said...

In my opinion the ever-increasing cost of education comes down to a few major points:

1. They do not use accrual accounting for buildings, maintenance or pensions. This does not become a problem until the birth rate slows. When this happens, the true cost of these items are seen. The result is those at the end pay to make up for the lack of taxes paid by those ten and 20 years before.

2. Classroom size is a big issue. Studies I have seen show that classroom size has little bearing on retention when under 32 per class. When I was in school, the teacher had no helper and taught 30 students. Classroom size is a huge factor in the cost of education for two main reasons:

a. Classroom size determines number of classrooms. Number of classrooms impacts building costs. A new Carroll high school would be about $100 million for 1700 students. Roughly each seat costs $58,823. A useable life span for this classroom seat hopefully is 60 years. This cost is $1,176 per year adjusted by 4% a year. Add in maintenance costs and you could easily get an accrual cost of another $45 per year. Now change the classroom size from 30 to 29 and you increase cost by 3.3% annually just for building, not utilities.

b. Smaller classroom size required more teachers. With teacher compensation package of $50K, teaching 30 students costs $1,667 per student. But as was pointed out, they do not accrual about 10% of this cost. It stays hidden until the teacher retires and begins drawing a pension or healthcare. Changing the classroom size increases cost by over 3%.

This is why it is imperative to use accrual accounting. If not then previous generations can pass their cost for services onto you and you will do the same to your children. The reason why it costs so much to educate our children today is because of lack of planning years ago and they let emotion over rule sound judgement.

Debbie said...

So William, with all this analysis, is it your intent to justify education taxes?

And I'm still not clear on your view of the adults who were privately schooled having to pay for education since they have incurred no debt to the state.

William Larsen said...

Debbie I guess I look at public education as being one of the very few things that government should provide. when I say provide I am speaking only of K-12.

An educated public is more difficult to hood wink. Therefore, you I would say public education serves to some degree a national defense posture. We need people who at least a know a minimum level. To function and be productive in this country one needs to know how to read, write and understand mathematics.

Now you may say this can be taught in K-6 and that 7-12 is a waste of taxpayer money. When I ran for U.S. Representative in 2002 I supported school vouchers. I still support them.

As for justifying taxes, it was not my intent to justify either the taxes nor the cost. My intent was to show the relationship between cost and revenues as they are today. My intent was also to show that based on today's method of financing public education the "average" taxpayer does not pay back their educational debt until well into their 70's.

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