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Friday, October 30, 2009

Tom Knapp: More Redistributionist Than Anarchist?

Brian Holtz // Oct 30, 2009 at 1:35 pm
Tom, is it really your judgment that 1) completely repudiating the national debt is both more fair and more politically achievable than 2) repudiating at least part of the windfall that today’s seniors receive beyond their SS contributions plus inflation plus real interest?

If so, I leave it as an exercise for the reader to judge both your political instincts and your sense of fairness. And I’ll keep in my back pocket your epiphany that to grudgingly tolerate a political reality is not to bless/endorse it.

It still seems inconsistent that you would cancel all government obligations to those who lent money to the state “on the notion that all us serfs are either willing, or can be forced, to pick up the check”, but aren’t willing to cancel all such government obligations to those who TOOK UP ARMS for the state on a very similar notion. If it’s good for the state’s creditors to think twice about enabling its depradations, isn’t it even better for the state’s armed henchmen to have second thoughts? Shouldn’t you thus favor canceling all government obligations to all soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, police, prison guards, border patrolmen, DEA agents, FBI agents, Secret Service agents, BATF agents, Marshals — anybody who’s ever carried a gun or a nightstick for the state? Indeed, shouldn’t you also favor cancelling all obligations to so-called civil servants who in any way helped manage the “serfs” or received money stolen from them?

It’s interesting that the state-enablers that you as a left-libertarian choose to target are the same targets of run-of-the-mill lefty redistributionists. Of course, as a geolibertarian I share a target with them: landholders. But the difference is that most of my personal wealth is tied up in land, whereas you’re a former Marine who I suspect doesn’t have a lot of T-bills lying around the house.

Brian Holtz // Oct 30, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Tom, when I asked "both more fair and more politically achievable", I was asking two questions, not making some kind of silly metaphysical claim that fairness and political practicality are always joined at the hip.

You completely glide past the part where I talk about repudiating just the "WINDFALL that today’s seniors receive beyond their SS contributions plus inflation plus real interest", and instead talk about "payback" from payroll taxes.  Did you really think I wouldn't notice that?

If you can't bring yourself to repudiate unearned windfalls, then can you at least endorse my fallback proposal: printing such windfall SS checks in special red colors, so recipients will know when they've crossed over the line into stealing from their grandchildren?

I guarantee you that the terms of the Social Security deal will be altered unfavorably for some participants long before a penny of the national debt is repudiated. Indeed, Obama's campaign site said "Obama supports increasing the maximum amount of earnings covered by Social Security”. In 1983, benefits were reduced by increasing the retirement age and reducing the deductibility of SS payments for high earners.  By contrast, no party or presidential contender has ever proposed defaulting on the national debt.  I need to open a Knapp-predictions-that-will-fail file; I can no longer keep track of them all.

"It only seems inconsistent if you ignore political reality."

Consistency in one's political ethics doesn't depend on "political reality".  Your answer here is just: it's  consistent to target the government's creditors instead of its armed henchmen, because the former have fewer votes than the latter.

Some of us don't need to take a poll to decide what's ethically consistent.  (I suppose you'll try to claim that by "inconsistent" you thought I meant tactically inconsistent rather than ethically inconsistent.  If so, then for future reference: when I quote your own "serf" rhetoric back to you, we're not in a context of hard-nosed political realism, but rather in one of dorm-room philosophizing.)