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The Zero Aggression Principle and the Build Back Better bill

Does The ZAP have anything unique to offer when it comes to the Build Back Better bill? We think it does.

by Perry Willis

Do Americans really want the Build Back Better bill?

This Democrat bill is seemingly popular in the polls. A majority seems to favor it, and some provisions are approved by as much as 75% of the populace. But there’s one hitch…

 

Asking someone if they like a product is not the same thing as learning whether they like the price. Political opinion polls almost always ask how people feel about the alleged benefits of a proposal, without ever revealing the cost. Pollsters don’t ask if people still want the benefit at that price.

If they did that with the Build Back Better bill, you can be pretty sure the public would reject it. We can know that because other opinion polls tell us which issues concern people the most. Inflation (60%) and the deficit (48%) are two of the top concerns. In other words…

People probably don’t want the Build Back Better bill at the price of more debt and inflation.

So while Democrats are bemoaning what they see as a weakening American democracy, they ought to look in the mirror. They are the people advocating for things (Build Back Better) that the demos (the people) do not want. Said differently…

The Democrats are pushing policies that people democratically oppose

The Zero Aggression Principle gives us a method to close the gap between what the politicians want and what the people want. That’s because adherence to The ZAP would require us to replace taxes with voluntary funding. And that, in turn, would match government actions to public desires.

Voluntary funding may sound like a huge change, but it doesn’t have to be. It could actually be quite simple. We could use systems that already exist to make the transition.

An evolutionary approach to changing government funding

Consider a system where the tax-withholding process still functions, but people get to set their own payment and allocation levels in any way they desire. They could allocate x amount to one program, and y to another. They could even set some items or all items at zero. In other words…

The amount and type of governance we have would be determined by what citizens are willing to fund, and NOT by what politicians want to impose. Politicians would become more like boards of directors and managers, NOT rulers.

Under such a system President Biden could propose everything currently included in the so-called Build Back Better Bill. He could go on TV and pitch these items. If Biden’s ideas are really as good as he claims, he might even get more funding than he’s asking for! And if he really doubts that, then he must not be very confident about the quality of his own proposals.

The ZAP-based approach means that Americans could get what they’re willing to pay for, but not be forced to pay for things they dislike. That sure sounds more democratic than what we have now.

 

Show Comments 11

 

  1. Sorry to burst your bubble Perry but that’s probably not realistic because the reason we have the present type of government is because people want to use their fellow citizen to have them forced to pay for their neighbors personal benefits. In the voluntary system you propose the only programs that would likely be funded would be those which benefit the people who are funding them so there would be few social programs to help poor people because the poor people cannot fund themselves.
    Another problem would be the funding could be very sporadic from year to year and would not allow for government planning such as for military investments since some years people might be fearful and donate a lot, in other years practically nothing and then the government contracts could not be completed for large equipment or military operations. I think your premise of simply having less government is better is something to promote.

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      Author

      I’m going to reprise my response to another comment in this thread, and then add something below it…

      The world can’t possibly exist without human sacrifice. The world can’t possibly exist without animal sacrifice. The world can’t possibly exist without slavery. The world can’t possibly exist without monarchy. The Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall are permanent conditions of life, so get used to it. All of these things were passionately believed and reasonably argued for at various points in human history. Predicting that something can’t happen because of x,y, or z can sound sober and wise in the short term, but often looks short-sighted in the long term.

      Two facts/problems are relevant. One, those who hold mostly libertarian views on the issues (which numerous studies suggest number between 30 and 60 million people) have never been individually identified and mobilized. IF they were their political strength would be roughly equal to the Left and Right, and many things would change in a libertarian direction. Two, our ideas have never been seen and heard in the same ubiquitous way as have the ideas of the Left and Right. If problem one could be solved then that would solve problem two. This might change public opinion in profound ways.

      Those changes would have to involve lots of transitional steps, as with the Social Security problem you mention. None of the difficulties are inherently insurmountable. Of course, wise-sounding but short-sighted pessimism is also one of the problems we have to overcome.

      Additional comment: Yes, funding fluctuates up and down in the voluntary sector, and sometimes disappears altogether, but this doesn’t prevent things from being done. I have worked in the non-profit sector for more than 40 years, so I have zero respect for the claim that violence-based taxation is required to get things done.

  2. Your idea sounds good, but very wealthy people could skew the whole thing by paying a lot of money for programs most people might not want. To be simplistic, it would be good to fund building better roads and bridges, but not for statues of communist dictators.

  3. Fundamentally, if you are going to support “zero aggression,” then government must ALL go, as it is by definition, the agency with the monopoly on legalized violence and force. You know how you fund things in a truly free society? By people purchasing what they want and not purchasing what they do not want. People who wish to take the risk of investing in massive undertakings with the hope of future sales/profits, can and will certainly do that. When complete, people with either wish to purchase that service, use that highway/bridge, etc. or they won’t. Having future customers be part of the initial investment for reduced or no cost usage down the road could just as easily work. The truly free and competitive marketplace can address all needs. Government doesn’t even need to be part of any discussion.

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      Author

      What you say is mostly true, but if people voluntarily pay for courts and police that only use force defensively then you still have government. What you do NOT have is The State. This is a crucial distinction that we must incorporate into our thinking and communication in order to avoid incoherence.

  4. Excellent idea. I would still give my money to charity as I don’t think the lack of funding would help govt be efficient.

  5. If the true test of wisdom is the ability to teach wisdom to others, this proposal would restore Democracy to its previous condition. Ever since Herbert Hoover ran away to Stanford to try to figure out the Great Depression, we’ve backslid into a cesspool of elitism, in which “experts” command us what to believe, rather than teach us why they believe it. Technocracy now functions primarily on fear, as evidenced by the suicide rates during COVID quarantines. More dollars were spent, to less real effect, on COVID, than on World War II. “Experts” seized the high ground of FOX and CNN to beat one another into submission while Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube execs picked which “experts” they supported. We got maximum fear with minimal choice. Gone was any mention of palliative care that could increase comfort and prolong survival, while patients waited for their T-cells to build antibodies to the virus. The only allowed discussion was on curative care, for which we had to wait breathlessly in front of the Telescreen, hoping the “experts” would hurry up and provide it. Then when the vaccines proved to be oversold and the majority of new infections happened in people who got the Big Jab, the cooler heads in the media biz decided to dial down the volume a tad because the paranoia was getting embarrassing.

    Treating us all like five year old children who believe in Santa Claus and The Monster Under The Bed, who require elitists to rule us, has proven to have absurd results. Most immediately for Big Tech, it’s bringing antitrust action against Facebook owner Meta, because by metastasizing like a Stage 4 cancer into owning Facebook, WhatsApp, and Communicator, Meta imposed Elitist bans on private discussions of palliative care to compel the Elite-approved narrative of Hopelessness Until The Vaccines Come Out.

    The anticompetitive nature of Elitism is precisely why we need Voluntaryism. Elites do not really care as much about us, as our own lives matter to each of us. We must be free to discuss and learn facts for ourselves, not be told what we are allowed by the Elite, to believe.

    Respect, in the end, is earned. It is not commanded into existence by force.

  6. From a lifetime of reading, some of it in the literature of libertarian thought, I would offer an observation: Libertarianism is always attractive “in theory”. But it fails utterly in practice because of the simple dynamics of human nature. Large numbers of people will always vote for and abuse “free” benefits and ignore the real costs of their preferences. We see this principle acting over the centuries in what is called “The Tragedy of the Commons.” If you don’t know the term, then look it up.

    A variation on this theme can be called the NIMBY Principle (“Not in My Back Yard”). Many people will claim to recognize the shared benefits of various government or social policies — but vote against practical implementation in their own close vicinity. Social aspirations are fine in theory — for somebody other than ourselves. Most people who want to think well of themselves also want social equality and an easing of the poverty of a permanent underclass that is locked out of full participation in our shared public life. But we’re not willing to pay for that easing either in taxes or by investment of our own time and resources.

    We can also test the practicality of libertarian thought and the principle “that government is best that governs least.” Just ask a libertarian if they are willing to defer pleasure by investing a quarter of their lifetime income to support themselves in retirement, while abolishing the Social Security System. What you’ll get back is outrage, often accompanied by the false statement that “we paid for our benefits.” Social security retirement has never worked that way and in fact cannot work that way. If social security savings were guaranteed by real assets, then managers of that system (whether in government or in private investing and banking) would quickly control all world or National wealth.

    1. Post
      Author

      The world can’t possibly exist without human sacrifice. The world can’t possibly exist without animal sacrifice. The world can’t possibly exist without slavery. The world can’t possibly exist without monarchy. The Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall are permanent conditions of life, so get used to it. All of these things were passionately believed and reasonably argued for at various points in human history. Predicting that something can’t happen because of x,y, or z can sound sober and wise in the short term, but often looks short-sighted in the long term.

      Two facts/problems are relevant. One, those who hold mostly libertarian views on the issues (which numerous studies suggest number between 30 and 60 million people) have never been individually identified and mobilized. IF they were their political strength would be roughly equal to the Left and Right, and many things would change in a libertarian direction. Two, our ideas have never been seen and heard in the same ubiquitous way as have the ideas of the Left and Right. If problem one could be solved then that would solve problem two. This might change public opinion in profound ways.

      Those changes would have to involve lots of transitional steps, as with the Social Security problem you mention. None of the difficulties are inherently insurmountable. Of course, wise-sounding but short-sighted pessimism is also one of the problems we have to overcome.

  7. I think this could make sense with the caveat that if those who couldn’t visualize the benefits of the project want to use it after initial funding then a toll system could be implemented for ongoing maintenance, although at a costlier rate rate than the tax payers had paid. This incentivizes front-loaded funding.

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