Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Questions I've been pondering recently...

This one came up over drinks last night: If you could institute one law (presumably in an attempt to fix the shortcomings of the current system), what would that one law be?

Hayek was asked this question late in his life, and responded with something to the effect of "The law should apply to everyone equally." I think that's a little broad; we thought his intention for that was something like "no subsidies because they don't go to everyone," but you could argue that everyone could get a subsidy if they did the subsidized activity. We also didn't have the exact words-- perhaps it was framed better than that. (Anyone?)

The challenge here isn't just the intention-- I think most people have the right idea-- but structuring it, like every good law, so as not to be manipulated or worked around.

My answer's in the comments...


Matt E. Ryan said...

At any conceivable level (individual, county, state), taxes collected must equal goods and services rendered.

Obviously, there's an issue of calculation, but I think the issue of redistribution could be addressed decently.

Anonymous said...

I've thought about this in great depth a few times over my short life and there are always the joking (but really, I'm serious) ones of "Everyone has to give me (defined narrowly) a dollar" or "Each person (defined narrowly) can kill one fellow human being without criminal recourse (but civil recourse would be allowed, e.g. OJ v. Nicole's parents)"

But in terms of just one law that would fix everything, I think it would strongly depend on what laws were currently in effect at the time. If it'd been 100 years ago, a constitutional amendment that mandated that the federal government could not collect income tax would have been ideal.