A few hours ago, Javier Milei raffled off his first salary as a national deputy. “Every tax is armed robbery and I do not want to be an accomplice in that,” he argued. To be frank from the beginning, it seemed like nonsense to me. Taxes are a structural element of every capitalist system. There is no country that does not charge them. In any case, how much, how, and in what way will be discussed.
Milei has always been cordial with me, despite the obvious differences. So I warned him:
“I am going to write that it is a populist slapstick.”
“I am not offended. But I want to discuss it.”
That is what the following paragraphs are about, how the brain of someone who proposes a society where taxes are not collected works.. Or, perhaps, how the people who are attracted to the character think.
“Okay,” I replied, “but I don’t want us to discuss general issues, but rather restrict ourselves to a single topic. In Argentina, millions of children receive free public education. If you don’t charge taxes, how would you finance it?
-The central axis is to understand my conception about the State. The existence of the public school is a derivative of the Welfare State. in my conception, The State is a criminal and violent organization that is financed through a coercive source that is taxes. Therefore, taxes are theft and anything you use from a theft is an accessory to that crime. If you want there to be public education, why should that be financed at gunpoint, by a violent method? That is grossly immoral. If society agrees that it wants to have a system that covers the educational needs of the entire population, it could voluntarily generate a fund. From there, a voucher system would be financed. Therefore, all people would have money to educate themselves and would go to the institution that they like best. So, the mechanism by which the system is funded would not be violent, because the people would do it voluntarily. Having the money, each one could choose the institution they want. That would generate competition in the educational system and improve it.
-Let’s try to run the gimmicky words of the discussion: violent, criminal, at gunpoint. Let’s get to the concrete. Suppose you stop collecting taxes, and then propose a voluntary fund. Surely few people contribute. The rich won’t do it because they already have enough to pay for the schools where they send their children. The poor will not do it because they are poor. How do you educate those kids if you don’t have enough money?
-It is not something gimmicky to say that taxes are robbery and are collected at gunpoint. It is calling things by their name. They are called taxes because no one is willing to pay them voluntarily. Those who live from the State, in order to live with their conscience, have decided to call the tax payer a taxpayer. Calling the tax payer is like the rapist calling the woman he rapes his girlfriend.
-Why are taxes charged in all capitalist countries?
-The fact that taxes are paid everywhere does not mean that it is good. With that criterion, the Assembly of 1813 should not have abolished slavery because there was slavery everywhere. If I have to go against the world to do something for the welfare of human beings, why should I check whether someone else is doing it or not? I am philosophically anarcho-capitalist. I believe in self-government. I put the individual as a central element. But in the short term I am a minarchist. I believe in the gendarme state, the one that deals with security and justice.
Let’s go back to the practical proposal that I made to you. How do you finance public education if that voucher system that you imagine is not enough for you?
–You ask me what happens if what is contributed voluntarily by society is not enough to finance a certain amount of education. Well, that means the agents are expressing that they don’t want as much education. So why would people have to be robbed of that money to finance that spending? Who determines what is the optimal amount of education that should be in a society? There may be people who decide to study a lot, and others who decide not to study at all. No one has enough knowledge to determine how much is optimal. What is optimal is that you have the financing that the individuals decide. If you think it’s not enough, it’s your problem because your preferences are different from those of society. If you think it is little, contribute more. But do not demand it by violent means from another who does it. If I need more money to finance something that I like, and I want you to finance it, then I can’t send a jerk to steal your money and say: “Ah, this man gave me money”.
-Everything is very interesting in theory. But we still have the same problem. Schools are not funded and this leaves millions of children abandoned, especially those born into homes with fewer resources. The school could be an instrument to equalize the inequality of opportunities between rich and poor kids. Isn’t your proposal terribly violent?
-I don’t see it that way. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that there are rich and there are poor as long as the process by which a person gets rich is honest, they do it by offering goods of better quality and better price, they don’t steal it from anyone. Therefore, in principle the rich would be social benefactors, depending on what they have generated. The Marxist, or Marxian, system has been empirically refuted wherever it has been applied. Socialism has been a resounding failure economically, socially, and culturally, and it always had to be imposed by violent methods.
In the capitalist system, the process by which income distribution is generated is not independent of the productive system. If a worker is very productive and is in a market where the good that is produced is palatable to human beings and there is a shortage of it, this means that you have wonderful prices with which you earn a lot of money and allow better wages to be paid. . As the marginal productivity of the worker depends in turn on the capital stock that is contributed by the capitalist, in this situation they are partners and benefit from the situation. I see no conflict between rich and poor. If you earned your money honestly, I don’t think someone should come and steal it from you.
-These are theories, Javier. Meanwhile you don’t collect taxes and you have to close the schools.
-Regarding the situation of children who are born in homes with fewer possibilities, that does not mean that you have the right to take from someone to give it to another according to your criteria. The proposition of equal opportunities not only does not make sense from the point of view of economic dynamics, but also implies a violent act of snatching the fruit of a person’s labor. If human capital is key to determining how people will fare in their future, what if people are born smarter than others? What are you going to do? Are you going to put a chip in their heads so that they don’t generate above-average thoughts because that is going to generate inequality? The procedure is violent and forces you to call down.
You insist that if the fund is left to the will of the people, that fund may be scarce. Well, ultimately it is what the society that wants to have is deciding. Taking it to another number implies the implementation of a violent system. You steal from someone to give to another. That is not fair. Who decides how much is right or how much is wrong? To establish that you should have divine qualities. It is the fatal arrogance of which Hayek spoke. And that is not within the reach of human beings. It is true that the system generates injustice. But that is the fault of the people who decide to replace the invisible hand with the iron hand of the State by stealing money from some people to give it to others.
– I don’t understand what the Marxist system has to do with this discussion. Public education is Sarmiento’s idea, not Marx’s.
– The basis of the problem is why do you think it is fair to steal money from the rich?
– In other words, you think that Sarmiento was an accomplice in a robbery, he was violent.
– Regarding Sarmiento there are different types of liberals and views… But the idea of public education is part of the communist manifesto.
In all countries there are people with curious ideas: not taxing the cost of closing public schools, in my opinion, is one of those ideas. One can imagine what would happen in the country if such proposals are put into practice.
But, in any case, much does not matter. Surely Milei is a fleeting phenomenon. People get angry and then they get over it. In addition, the traditional politicians, the rational ones, will find a way to recover the credibility they have lost and then this type of phenomenon will lose strength.
Or will it not be so?