In an email exchange (which has already produced two posts), a friend asked “What are the alternatives you suggest to taxing/ law and order maintainance / public healthcare/ public education etc?” This is what I wrote as a response:
Education and healthcare are certainly not areas where the government needs to enter. Consider the private tuitions / coaching class business in India for example. They exist for all levels of education and almost everybody attends them. They are also quite profitable. And this is inspite of the fact that parents are forced to pay for both official schools and coaching classes.
I do not have any significant personal experience of the health care industry, so I will merely link to the website of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine
Law and order (Police, courts, army) is a government responsibility and the question of how it is to be funded is certainly a pertinent one. A fee for the protection of business contracts could be one way. Banks requiring tax payments from borrowers (as a proof of responsibility) could be another. Voluntary taxation does seem an unworkable idea today, but men do give to charities and spend time and effort on activism. If the government is restricted to the maintenance of law and order, the revenue requirement will be way smaller (of the order of a few percent) than the level of taxation today (more than 40% for corporates and top earners in most of the world). Since men will be freed from a big tax burden (much of which is wasted by the government today), they will have more to give voluntarily. Anyhow, if the kind of reforms I desire are ever to be realized, abolishing taxation will be one of the last things to happen. A society that genuinely respects self-interest (instead of denigrating it through mis-concepts like greed) and allows economic as well as political freedom will be very different from the society today. What seems (and is) unworkable today need not be unworkable in such a society.
What I am writing about is a vision, not just political but also moral. Taking just a part of that vision and considering it in today’s context will not work. This does not mean that we can dispense with the vision however. No one can live a directed, purposeful life without a vision. The same holds for a country. Atleast the older generations (in India) had a vision (socialism), misguided though it might have been. Today’s generation has no vision at all. Look at some of the recent campaigns for example. Against reservation, against corruption etc. Read this article in today’s Bombay Times as another example. All empty words, no content. What do these people want? They all say they will vote. For whom? “Somebody who sticks to his or her word”, “A young, educated and responsible leader who loves the country whole heartedly. Somebody who puts the country first while discharging his duties.”, “A person we can depend on and trust. A leader who will not just concentrate on one aspect of development, but look around and bring about a positive change in all areas.”, “A young, healthy leader to lead India.”, “A leader who has the vision of a great and young India.”, “A leader who can look after all classes and give young India a path to follow.” These are people who know that the ideas that have always been preached to them have failed miserably. And as a consequence they have rejected ideas as such. They think they are smart, pragmatic and energetic. But what are they directing their energies toward? They don’t think it is necessary to know that, as long as they are pragmatic. But they are only deceiving themselves. Without a vision, they won’t be able to change anything.