Bezos vs. The Federal Government
Updated: Feb 23
A Thought Experiment in Defense of Capitalism
Note: This is not meant to be a “scholarly article”. This is a thought experiment taken from the informal perspective of a brainstorm/stream of consciousness, and written informally to the reader, regardless of the reader’s political stance. Enjoy!
So, I had this thought: let's compare Jeff Bezos to the Federal Government: I know, Jeff is “evil”. Because he's "rich". We get it. But you probably give some of your money to Jeff.
You also give a fortune to the federal government. But every tax season, are you checking off as many boxes as you possibly can to wind up paying the least you possibly can in taxes? Me too.
The truth is, if you wanted to honestly pay more in taxes, nothing is stopping you from just mailing in a check; an institution that has the right to collect revenue with the threat of force (the proverbial “gun” that separates government from all other institutions) obviously has the right to collect revenue through voluntary contributions. This should be self-evident.
The thing is, how much would you pay the government if there were no gun involved? For many, would it be zero? Probably. Who would pay basically all the taxes in this scenario? Would it be the people who have the most to lose if, say, marauders came and invaded our country? Who has a ton to lose? Given that the rich have the most “stuff” and the most to lose (all human lives being created otherwise equal), the ultra rich would be paying all the taxes. But you'd be welcome to pay taxes if you want, as well. The thing is, how much money do you give Jeff Bezos? And how much would you give him if there were no gun involved? That's right, there is no gun, so the same amount that you currently give him. The federal government does, in fact, produce a service for you with the money you give them. However, the fact that you would only give them your money because of the gun, and the fact that you are clearly willing to give Jeff Bezos your money without one suggests that - by admission of your own behavior - you find giving Bezos your money a better investment than taxes; you find that Bezos responds to market forces better than government. And what are market forces other than you and I deciding how to distribute scarce resources?
Now imagine a scenario in which there are only voluntary taxes. Again, how much voluntary taxes would you be willing to pay for the services you receive? Probably nothing, right? Apply that to government at all levels. What would happen to public schools? They would probably all shut down, right? And what would Bezos then do? Would he not open up Amazon schools? If there was a competitive market (so no guns involved), would you give your money to the government, and send your kids to public school, or would you be more apt to give that same amount to Bezos so your child could attend an Amazon school? You see, every proverbial “dollar” you give to Bezos is a vote for how you would like your scarce resources distributed. And, if there were no guns, every proverbial dollar you give to the government would be a vote of how you would like your scarce resources distributed. So who gets more votes in this scenario? Is it really, then, a big deal if Bezos dominates the market? What happens if you decide not to give Bezos your money? With guns involved, what happens if you decide not to give the government your money? In this case, the only people who would get ultra rich would be the people we effectively "vote" into those positions; and we can take away those votes in an instant, and at any time, and on any day. And, in this case, the only people who could get ultra rich are the people we most trust to distribute scarce resources, and they would inherently do it better than government, as indicated by the fact that we are willing to give them our scarce resources in return for the services they provide...without a gun being pressed up against our heads. Yes, we would still need a standing army and a court system. But would you rather give the government your money, or a military defense instructor and a gun store owner your money? In this scenario, you get to choose. Bezos would probably give his money to the government. And he'd probably give a lot of money to the government. But what else would government even do? In this scenario, it makes no sense for elected officials to take what would basically be bribes from Bezos to not defend the rest of the country; he needs us as paying customers, so we're no good to him dead. It makes no sense for Bezos to bribe officials to suppress us; again, he needs us as paying customers, and we're no good to him if we don't have money to give him. And the moment the government turns on us, all of us who took those military defense instructions and spent our money on guns and munitions rather than taxes would find ourselves far better equipped than today to stand up against the might of an oppressive government, and with a standing army that would probably be far LESS equipped to stifle such a militia as a result of having far fewer monetary contributors to that effort. You see folks, people who get rich in Capitalism can only get rich by providing an enormous goodness to the country; and who can - by the admission of your own actions - better decide than government how to distribute scarce resources. It sounds, to me, like Bezos is - by admission of your own actions - not at all evil, and that, in this situation, the only people who could get that rich would have to be super-not-evil, and that wealth would be a strict measure of how well you respond to market forces (i.e. how well you distribute scarce resources), which is equivalent to our voting them into those positions. Those of you on the left claim to want to distribute wealth "fairly"; you claim to want "the rich" to pay their "fair share". Okay. Capitalism is the only system that does that. Bring on the distribution of wealth.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views held by The Liberty Block or any of its contributors or members.