Issues for a Social Choice based Political/Economic System: (1) Taxation
Now Playing: Jeff Tain Watts
Topic: Social Choice
There are some major issues which need to be addressed in regard to a social choice based political and economic system or preferensism as we have called it. Some (but not all) of these are the following: (1) Taxation, (2) Investment, (3) Advertising, (4) Property Ownership, (5) Innovation and Invention, (6) Welfare (7) the Environment, (8) Poverty, (9) Defense, and (10) Health Care. Preferensism is mainly concerned with the basic economic system functions of work allocation, remuneration for work and pricing and supply of consumer items and services: what is produced, who produces it and what is consumed and by whom. Also it is concerned politically with voting for candidates or alternatives. There are, however, issues outside these basic functions such as the ones listed above that need to be addressed with regard to how they would be handled in a social choice based economy.
One consequence of preferensism would be the merging of economic and political functions. Since both the economy and the political system are characterized by "one person, one vote," many functions previously thought to be strictly political, would now be subsumed in the economic realm. For instance, how much money would be devoted to the Park System, instead of being fought over by elected representatives, could now be handled directly by the populace since that would be a part of the alternative set of each individual and would be automatically integrated into the overall economic picture. There would be an increased degree of direct democracy not in terms of up or down votes of specific propositions but in terms of each individual's preferences regarding how much more would he or she be willing to work in order to fund various government functions. There would probably still be a need for some degree of representative government to cover certain functions which it would not be prudent to subject to a direct vote. The question is how much democracy is too much democracy, and should the citizenry be trusted to make all decisions by voting even if that were feasible. Should the decision to go to war, for example, be put to a direct vote of the people?
In this first blog entry dealing with this general subject, we will deal with the issue of taxation. Generally, taxation is thought of as money the government takes from us, the citizens, in order to fund the government. However, in a direct democracy such as preferensism, the question is how much longer is each individual willing to work (as reflected in their preference list) in order to fund various government functions or what are now considered to be government functions. Government functions can be thought of as consumer goods which are consumed collectively as opposed to individual consumption. Each individual can include in his preference list data as to how much he is willing to pay for a variety of societal functions. Examples could be the following: research, education, parks and recreation, mass transit, libraries, bridges, dams and infrastructure, defense and welfare.
So instead of taking money out of an individual's paycheck for taxes, each individual's work and pay schedule would automatically reflect the quantity and quality of collective as well as individual consumption. It could be thought of as working an extra amount in order to have the things that are consumed collectively. If there were no collective consumption, each individual's work week would be lessened to some extent for the same pay. Of course, there would be no need for standardized work weeks. Each individual would decide how much he would prefer to work in exchange for his or her individual standard of consumption. Some individuals might prefer to work less and have less, for example. Bear in mind that each individual would not necessarily get his first preference. The goal would be to maximize utility or satisfaction in society and to achieve the best "fit" given individual inputs. As in all democracies, there would be trade-offs both economic and political. In general it would be hard to envision how those who wanted to work more and consume less could not be accommodated while those who wanted to consume more and work less might not always be accommodated. The best fit need not mean that everyone put in the same amount of work either for items consumed individually or collectively - just that the individual's work-consumption schedule reflect his or her individual preferences and tastes and each person's input would be treated the same as every other's. In other words each person would have the same amount of political-economic power: "one person, one political-economic vote."
So taxation need not be considered as a separate entity outside the system or as an "add-on" to the system, but would be subsumed in each individual's preference list. Each individual would have one political-economic vote in such a way that minorities (down to the level of individuals) would be accommodated to the greatest extent possible. There need not be majority rule in most situations since most issues are non-binary. If the wishes of a thousand subsets of the population can be accommodated, why only accommodate the wishes of the majority? There would be individually-tailored solutions not "one size fits all" both politically and economically and to a large extent politically-economically.
Posted by jclawrence
at 9:21 PM PST
Updated: Friday, January 20, 2006 4:46 PM PST