Donations vs. Taxes
By Arnold Kling
Arnold Kling rejects the idea of having any duty to society, even while he has enjoyed countless benefits from society. Including receiving a world-class education of the sort enjoyed by a tiny elite. Basically, what Kling does not appreciate is all of the good things he has gotten as a member of society. Think about all of the people who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defending this country and protecting our lives, liberty, and freedom to pursue happiness in the armed services. What Kling is saying is he does not owe such people or anyone anything. Kling must actually think he somehow deserves to have lived the life of privilege that he has lived, and that securing the blessings of liberty and peace are free. Basically, what we have here is an entitlement mentality run amok.
I view this as a very good argument for why I should be willing to donate money to fund police, courts, and other social institutions.
In fact, it is such a good argument that it reinforces my view that these institutions do not have to be supported by taxes. Lots of collective institutions are supported by voluntary donations, and the case for supporting critical public institutions is so strong that I think many people would willingly donate to support them.
The argument that these institutions need taxpayer support is that otherwise people would free ride. Perhaps some people would choose to free ride. However, my guess is that the cost of those free riders would be a fraction of the costs of the inefficiencies created by coercion-backed, taxpayer-funded government.
In fact, the idea that I need to show my gratitude to others by expressing support for coercion seems perverse. I would think that voluntary donations would be a much more sincere expression of gratitude than joining in the project of collective coercion.