Just Fix It

by Don Boudreaux on October 26, 2007

in Taxes

Here’s a letter that I sent today to the New York Times:

There’s widespread agreement that the alternative minimum tax – because it is not indexed to inflation – is mistakenly raising the taxes of millions of Americans (“House Democrats Propose Tax Overhaul,” October 25).  Happily, there’s also widespread agreement that this mistake should be corrected.

So, given that the current operation of the AMT is a mistake, why do Rep. Charles Rangel and so many others talk of the need to “pay for” fixing the AMT?  A merchant who mistakenly overcharges customers is obliged to refund the money and stop overcharging, period.  This obligation kicks in whether or not the merchant devises some way of replacing the revenue that he loses by correcting his mistake.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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{ 49 comments }

Methinks October 26, 2007 at 10:22 am

Nice letter, Don.

Makes waaaaay too much sense for congress to actually understand it, though.

M. Hodak October 26, 2007 at 10:30 am

Don,

You obviously don't get that your earnings belong entirely to the government, except for what Congress thinks is reasonable for you to keep. Get your head in the game, man!

anon October 26, 2007 at 10:54 am

Excellent letter, but I think you meant AMT not ATM. Congress may think of taxpayers as an ATM, though. Perhpas you were being ironic.

Darren October 26, 2007 at 10:58 am

Excellent, Don. But I'm afraid your statement of what SHOULD be obvious will fall mostly on deaf ears.

save_the_rustbelt October 26, 2007 at 12:36 pm

According to CATO (and anyone else who doesn't get their news from Rush Limbaugh) George Bush, alleged conservative, has been on a wild spending spree, both in current programs and in future committments.

Since we the people did not put a stop to this, and since many alleged conservatives were cheering this spending spree, someone has to eventually provide enough cash flow to pay the bills.

So the libertarians can holler all they want to, the conservatives can whine, but the credit card has a very high balance, and we get the bill.

mft October 26, 2007 at 12:52 pm

I don't know many conservatives who "cheered Bush's spending spree"; can Darren point to them? And since Bush's tax cuts, which conservatives DO cheer, have generated a huge increase in tax receipts, Darren should take comfort; the "credit card" has a small (by historic standards) balance, which is shrinking rapidly, and we hardly need new tax sources to replace revenues foregone when the lamentable AMT is "fixed."

roystgnr October 26, 2007 at 1:44 pm

The difference between merchants and the government is that if the government can't find any good way to "pay for" reduced revenues, going out of business isn't an option. Our government's currently popular alternative of "add more to the 9 trillion dollar debt" is something that taxpayers, dollar holders, and/or bond holders are going to inevitably pay for some day, and it's irresponsible to criticize Congressmen like Rengel for realizing what a bad thing that is.

Methinks October 26, 2007 at 1:50 pm

In fairness, MFT, that comment was save_the_rustbelt's not Darren's.

Rustbelt,

If the spending spree (of which this libertarian republican did not approve) was too expensive, then we need to give the items back, not pick people's pockets to pay for them. Just cut the programs, that way, we needn't pay for them at all. I'll even give you a couple of ideas to start.

Corporate welfare – the examples are too numerous to list. And payments in kind to welfare recipients. Pay them in cash and cut huge layers of government waste.

Darren October 26, 2007 at 3:21 pm

"The difference between merchants and the government is that if the government can't find any good way to "pay for" reduced revenues, going out of business isn't an option."

I beg to differ :)

muirgeo October 26, 2007 at 3:36 pm

…the "credit card" has a small (by historic standards) balance, which is shrinking rapidly, ..

Posted by: mft

You actually believe
” rel=”nofollow”>that?
No some one has to pay for this war and I'd argue the bill goes directly to those who have voted in this administration and so prospered off the war and all this administrations corporate welfare.

muirgeo October 26, 2007 at 3:40 pm

I beg to differ :)

Posted by: Darren

Hulll hullh huh huh..I'm so funny I want my govenment to go out of business. You're ridiculous.

The problem is that's just what the neocons want. They want to break the govenment bank just to prove it doesn't work while in the process feeding off your's and mine tax dollars.

Syphax October 26, 2007 at 3:53 pm

Muirgeo,

"No some one has to pay for this war and I'd argue the bill goes directly to those who have voted in this administration and so prospered off the war and all this administrations corporate welfare."

I suppose you also think that I shouldn't have to pay for various government programs/policies that I don't agree with because I didn't vote for the people who started them?

I agree with that philosophy… except we can just let people spend their money how they wish and skip the government part altogether.

John Dewey October 26, 2007 at 4:38 pm

save_the_rustbelt: "since many alleged conservatives were cheering this spending spree"

I don't know of any conservatives who reside outside the Beltway who cheered the spending spree. The many conservatives I talked to in Texas were furious with Bush and with the Republicans in Congress.

Have you read any conservative writers the past 6 years, rusty? The writers at National Review and at the Wall Street Journal and at Heritage Foundatin and at Cato have certainly not been cheering.

Chris October 26, 2007 at 4:48 pm

Muirgeo –

Your link appears to be broken.

The balance, in real terms, actually is falling. Basically, the effect of inflation on the debt is growing faster than the debt itself. In 200 years, when everybody makes a billion dollars a year, a several hundred trillion national debt will be paltry.

Check out optimist123.com for more detail.

shawn October 26, 2007 at 5:19 pm

…muirgeo…optimist…

Mesa Econoguy October 26, 2007 at 8:08 pm

The yardstick to measure national indebtedness (and future ability to repay) is deficit as % GDP. That measure is currently very historically low, about 1.9% GDP in 2006:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2008/pdf/hist.pdf

It ranks about 39th since 1929.

Modern liberals prefer to use total debt as % GDP, which looks much worse. The reason this is not really a valid comparison is that we don’t have to repay debt all at once, nor do we know the size of future economies or obligations.

A major economic problem of the liberal argument is that it relies on static scoring, and Mr. Rangle’s boondoggle “revenue neutrality” i.e. we need to maintain tax revenue or reduce spending. Guess which part of that equation liberals (and G.W. Bush) have never practiced?

Economically and empirically, muirgeo is wrong.

Gil October 26, 2007 at 11:30 pm

Who knows. I have a lingering suspicion like muirgeo's. Namely, Conservatives are like Libertarians and want government out but since they believe they can't politely reduce tax rates and snuff out programs because there's too many Lefties who'll jump up and down, they instead want to bankrupt the system (as well give fancy subsidies to themselves and their business buddies in the meantime) and start from scratch thinking that the current system's too far gone to be reformed. Likewise they could run the system aground and say to Lefties "see told you the large government, welfare state wouldn't work" thereby nearly assuring small governments in the future, perhaps?

Either that, or Conservatives come from the business world with it's "dog-eat-dog" as opposed to Liberals who comes from other places with their preferred notion of "so-ju". For the Conservative business owners type they might reckon that in business you do what you have to do and if it's wrong you'll get kicked out by your competitors such that when they're in the political sphere they do whatever they think is worth doing and since they're still in office, they must be doing something right.

muirgeo October 27, 2007 at 12:05 am

The yardstick to measure national indebtedness (and future ability to repay) is deficit as % GDP.

Posted by: Mesa Econoguy

That's funny! I think DEBT to GDP is a better measure of national inDEBTedness. While deficit to GDP is a good way to measure the deficit. You been watching Fox News again hey?

Remind me to NEVER lend you any money.

The main point on the AMT is to realize that the republican, caterers to the rich, didn't address the problem after 6 YEARS while the democratic congress is fixing it.

Judge politicians by what they DO not what others say they do.

muirgeo October 27, 2007 at 12:18 am

That's a good point Gil. The Republicans can't say what they really want to do and get elected. They have to lie, mislead and use wedge issues. The Democratic party at least are saying they wants to tax the rich and put forth a National Health plan. That's really all I need to know about the two parties. When you have to lie about your intentions to get elected to the degree the Republicans do it's obvious they have a bankrupt ideology. And again their actions speak clearly of their intentions.

As I always say why would you want some one who doesn't think government can work to run it. Like Reagan's ridiculous remark, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

Mesa Econoguy October 27, 2007 at 1:17 am

Actually, muirgeo, I’m an economist by training, and you’re obviously not.

Professor Roberts was one of my teachers.

You wouldn’t have passed his class.

Mesa Econoguy October 27, 2007 at 1:29 am

[Very funny if muirgeo is in fact Prfs. Boudreaux/Roberts]

Mesa Econoguy October 27, 2007 at 2:41 am
Nick October 27, 2007 at 6:55 am

Muirgeo: "As I always say why would you want some one who doesn't think government can work to run it."

There is a fallacy of assumption here of course, which is easy to prove: If you don't believe the government can remake Iraq into a western style democracy (e.g. you don't think "government can work" in that context) I think you would rather have someone like muirgeo running it than someone like George Bush. The reason of course is to prevent the inefficient expenditure of resources on a goal that cannot be attained.

The same reasoning applies pretty clearly with respect to social security and a host of other broken entitlement systems. The only difference is your starting point: do you start out thinking it will work or not? If you think it will work you want a true believer to ensure it gets done, if you don't you want a skeptic to limit the damage.

Muirgeo's problem is not so much a lack of intelligence as a complete lack of respect for those who don't agree with his/her position, and what appears to be an absolute refusal to honestly consider anything that doesn't fit neatly into his/her world-view. He/she is perhaps the most perfect example of a hypocrisy I see frequently: the supposedly enlightened liberal, calling for open-mindedness, compassion, and understanding, while possessing none of those traits themselves.

Chris October 27, 2007 at 8:39 am

(Ignoring the post trying to get people to go to a clearly infected website).

Muirgeo –

The debt-to-GDP number is falling as well. Like I said before, check out optimist123.com.

muirgeo October 27, 2007 at 10:04 am

There is a fallacy of assumption here of course, which is easy to prove: If you don't believe the government can remake Iraq into a western style democracy (e.g. you don't think "government can work" in that context)…Nick

What's the fallacy? Proper planning in Iraq could have massively changed the outcome. If I were in charge I'm sure the outcome would have been much better. Not because I'm so smart but because I would have surrounded myself with the best experts who would have made the right decisions obvious. But indeed I am smarter and a more decent person then George Bush…ain't saying much. Our president is a great example of the workings of a society run on priviledge. The guy'd a been a dead gang banger if born in the ghetto. The difference between having a boob who sees government only as something to make his friends rich and some one like Truman and George C Marshall is clearly evident in the outcomes of those who think government can work and the jerks who see it as one more selfish opportunity. Of course with Bush I can't tell if he's an opportunist or just a complete nincompoop.

MrC October 27, 2007 at 10:06 am

Don, we _get_ it. You write letters to the editor like Rain Man counts toothpicks. (Sheesh).

muirgeo October 27, 2007 at 10:27 am

The debt-to-GDP number is falling as well. Like I said before, check out optimist123.com.

Posted by: Chris

No Chris it's not going down. Skeptical Optimist has been proved wrong so many times. Just look at his history. He's a little heavy on the optimism and light on the skepticism.

The debt to gdp ratio is at an all time high ever since Reagan and Bush have been in charge. (excluding the WW2 years.

Why the heck do people like you sit and make excuses for these guys like bush who has spent more then 3 trillion dollars we don't have and most of it on things that don't help our country…like infrastructure.

Also go try and find the yearly debt history on the US Treasury site. It stops at 1999. These guys are disgusting and criminal.

roystgnr October 27, 2007 at 11:47 am

"The debt-to-GDP number is falling as well."

Where by "falling" you mean "growing from around 30% to around 60% since 1980"… unless you were only looking at the brief decline in Clinton's second term?

I'm not clear on why we want to maintain federal debt at all, except as a mechanism for regressive wealth transfer. We tax people based on their income, then give hundreds of billions of those dollars each year as interest payments to people based on their investments? That's wealth redistribution on a scale to rival big government entitlement programs, but without even the pretense of a "helping poor people" excuse.

Mesa Econoguy October 27, 2007 at 12:10 pm

Muirgeo, um, what part of “we don’t have to pay it all back at once,” 1.9% GDP, and “you’re the problem” don’t you understand?

Yer not too bright, is ya?

Grzeis October 27, 2007 at 1:35 pm

muirgeo says:

"The main point on the AMT is to realize that the republican, caterers to the rich, didn't address the problem after 6 YEARS while the democratic congress is fixing it."

Beware of those bearing gifts…

Chris October 27, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Roystqnr –

By "falling," I mean localized falling, i.e. quarter-over-quarter basis. The ratio at the end of 1Q07 was about 65.3%; at the end of 2Q07, it was about 64.4%.

Muirgeo –

The above calculation came from data from the treasury department (for debt) and BEA (for GDP). Whether that site has been wrong before or not, it's correct on this point.

Oh, and debt history *IS* at the treasury department's website: http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np

Gil October 27, 2007 at 6:16 pm

If Rangel wants to "pay for" correcting the AMT by reducing spending, that's ok with me.

brotio October 27, 2007 at 7:05 pm

Muirgeo couldn't answer what he meant by 'rising income disparity', he contradicts himself constantly, and calls anyone who disagrees with him selfish and stupid. This person (Muirgeo) claims to be smarter than the President.

For the sake of argument, I'll accept that premise because it illustrates another reason why I don't want the government deciding when or if I need to see a doctor: If even Muirgeo is smarter than the average politician, why in the world would we want politicians deciding our critical health care issues?

vidyohs October 27, 2007 at 8:34 pm

muirduck,
Got news for you seetiekums, the president only spends what is authorized by Congress.
Oh, there is a little slush fund for the president to use, but not trillions, just some spare change.

"Why the heck do people like you sit and make excuses for these guys like bush who has spent more then 3 trillion dollars we don't have and most of it on things that don't help our country…like infrastructure."

Your beloved fellow socialist church goers in Congress authorized the president to spend what he has spent…..tsk tsk on them!

And tsk tsk on you for ignoring that fact or not knowing that fact.

But, hey, reason, rational, intelligence, education, and objectivity is not expected from such as you have proven yourself to be.

From you we expect, and we get, the steady drumroll of the socialist scripture…….hail hail Karl!!

I think it was Winston Churchill that said, "if at 14 and a girl, you are not a socialist…you have no heart; but, if you're at least 15 or older than and you aren't a captialist then you have no brain."

Oh, I may have misquoted Sir Winston a little there, but it fits you so well.

Gil October 27, 2007 at 11:22 pm

Aw what! Another Gil!?

P.S. I thought Winston Churchill was a Liberal with Socialist leanings and hardly someone to quote if you're a Conservative or Libertarian.

brotio October 28, 2007 at 2:26 am

"… I thought Winston Churchill…"

If the quote fits? FDR had some impressive quotes about the War, and I won't hesitate to use them if they help make my point, even though he was a socialist. I imagine most presidents have had a praiseworthy quote or two; except for Jimmy Carter, who was too busy playing Monica Lewinsky to the Assahola Khomeini's Clinton to have anything useful to say.

save_the_rustbelt October 28, 2007 at 10:49 am

John Dewey:

"Conservative" House members, including my own (Oxley, now Jordan and Camp) have never stood up to Bush on anything with the exception of immigration.

The only way to bring spending under control is to end the disaster in Iraq, and apparently conservatives have followed the neocons so far down the path that this will not happen anytime soon.

Shutting dwon Blackwater would help a tiny bit, but Bush won't cross the DeVos family, they own his butt like so many others.

I read just about the entire torrent of conservative and neocon writing nearly everyday, and the National Review and etc. are only in favor of some selective domestic spending restraint, hardly a principled position.

Good news though, by 2009 our troops in Iraq MAY have the right kind of armor. Bush is an incompetent and a liar.

vidyohs October 28, 2007 at 11:38 am

Gil,
Regardless of what Winston was in fact, I do know that he championed free trade when he was virtually a stands alone in your Parliment.

And, the actual quote is: "If at twenty you aren't a liberal, then you have no heart; but, if at forty you aren't a conservative, you have no brain."

So, call him what you will, the quote fits muirduck and yourself exactly as I stated above, though I will admit you haven't come across as a 14 year old girl yet, only a twenty year old liberal dolt. Stick with it, you may develop a brain by forty….or maybe not….Noam Chomsky, Ted Kennedy, Pelosi, Reid, Billary, et al. haven't yet.

roystgnr October 28, 2007 at 11:50 am

"I mean localized falling, i.e. quarter-over-quarter basis. The ratio at the end of 1Q07 was about 65.3%; at the end of 2Q07, it was about 64.4%."

There's a reason why people don't take local finite differenced derivatives of noisy data: because the error terms blow up. As you bring your data points closer together you end up dividing a finite error by zero. It's also not good, when there is a periodic (e.g. seasonal) quality to smooth data, to try and take a finite difference over a fraction of a single period and extrapolate from that the long-term trend.

It's possible that the decline over 3 months from Q1 to Q2 2007 was a new trend, but I wouldn't bet on it. It would contradict the trend from Q2 2006 to Q2 2007, as well as the trends for 2005-2006, etc. going back several years. You can see the long-term trend here:

http://zfacts.com/metaPage/lib/National-Debt-GDP-L.gif

Also: "You don't have to pay it back all at once" is how credit card companies lure people into massive debt at ridiculously high interest rates. Just because you can still afford the minimum balance due doesn't mean you're in good financial shape.

Gil October 28, 2007 at 12:00 pm

Oops, must have been another Churchill then . . .

But still, oh gee, well, that's charming, vidyohs, is it a blessing or a curse to be a Libertarian? Knowing the proper way of living and behaving yet watching the rest of the world do differently?

Mesa Econoguy October 28, 2007 at 1:12 pm

I want to be very clear about this, because not only is this a massive misperception in the media, it is a widespread myth in the general public, too, as practiced by several posters on this thread.

Our major economic problems will be caused by entitlement spending, not by things like infrastructure failure or the war in Iraq.

The big 3 programs that will cause the most harm are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. By 2040, it is estimated that these 3 programs alone will consume nearly 30% GDP. That’s putting us on the road to “robust” economic growth that tops out at 2% per year.

If you wish to start a discussion about the fiscal responsibility of this country, you need to examine these programs, and probably eliminate them. While it is certainly true that wars and military actions do add significant operating costs, military functions are constitutionally proscribed, while most entitlement programs are not.

Muirgeo, your criticism of Bush is especially disingenuous because you’re effectively denigrating him for doing something you wholeheartedly endorse, when it’s done by “your people.” You also willfully turn a blind eye to the root cause of this situation: actions of your very own party/political philosophy. That is the textbook definition of partisanship, and is neither useful analysis nor effective criticism. It also makes you look & sound incredibly stupid on an economics blog.

muirgeo October 28, 2007 at 1:38 pm

But still, oh gee, well, that's charming, vidyohs, is it a blessing or a curse to be a Libertarian?

Posted by: Gil

Apparently its a blessing as he seems completely happy with himself and the bubble that contains him. Libertarianism is even easier when you have government provided health care and a government pension all the rest of us have to pay……..not that I don't think its worth it but just that the hypocrisy reeks from afar.

muirgeo October 28, 2007 at 3:17 pm

Mesa, so wrong on so many fronts…where to start. First is a war constitutional if not declared by congress?

"Our major economic problems will be caused by entitlement spending, not by things like infrastructure failure or the war in Iraq.

The big 3 programs that will cause the most harm are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid."
Mesa Economy

The problem will be solved not by eliminating the existing programs. THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN. The problem currently is that the existing health care system is a hybrid mutant mixture of the worst aspects of poor public policy and capitalistic/corprotistic failures.

The good news is the Democratic party is set to fix this problem. The future of are country and prosperity does indeed revolve around this issue. ( Social Security is just not an issue as it can be fixed with by simply dropping the rate to 3% or 4% and loosing the cap, among multiple other fixes).

Our success or failure in the next 10 years will be determined by how successful we are at developing a health care system that minimizes public bureaucracy and maximizes free market aspects. I'd argue the biggest threat to our success comes not from bureaucrats and politicians but from the monied interest of the worthless for profit health care plans and their lobbyist.

The danger comes from the sway of ideologues on either side that might result in yet another hybrid monster. People like yourself, Mesa, would do best to realize this change will happen and rather then preventing it come up with solutions that make it work.

The biggest danger to libertarians and conservative is that successful passage of a working program will be the nail in the coffin for the dead laizze faire ideology that says government can't work for the better of its people and society as a whole.

Actually, that's what the whole SCHIPP battle is all about. When people understand its success it will be the foot in the door to pass comprehensive universal coverage.

Mesa Econoguy October 28, 2007 at 4:13 pm

Most of that is factually incorrect, and economically nonsensical. I don’t have time to dissect it – that would take weeks.

Muirgeo, you have created the behemoth (with help from some Republican friends), and now you can’t stop it, and you want to repeat this mistake with “universal” healthcare.

Unbelievably stupid.

John Dewey October 28, 2007 at 7:34 pm

rustbelt: "The only way to bring spending under control is to end the disaster in Iraq, and apparently conservatives have followed the neocons so far down the path that this will not happen anytime soon."

Right. Obviously the majority of the nation and their elected representatives believe we can exit Iraq next year. That's why Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama can confidently assert they'll get us out of Iraq by the end of 2009. Oh, wait. They said maybe by 2013, didn't they?

Congress has to approve whatever the president and the pentagon spend on Iraq. Last I read, it was not conservatives in control of Congress anymore.

IMO, it is not the $100 million we spend fighting in Iraq that needs to be reduced. When my parent's generation fought a war overseas, everyone sacrificed back home. Everyone supported the war effort. Today, 60 years later, we just hear about how the needs of fighting men are causing federal spending to be out of control.

Yeah, it's so damned simple to end a war. That's what Alan Alda tells us on M.A.S.H. reruns, so it must be true.

Chris October 28, 2007 at 9:14 pm

Muirgeo –

If you're referring to Iraq, the Congress authorized the use of force. The President does not, constitutionally, have the power to declare war. However, he is the commander in chief of the armed forces (Art. II, Sec. 2), which confers certain powers upon him.

Section 2(c) of the War Powers act purports to define when the President may constitutionally use the Armed Forces without Congressional authorization. But, a President may reasonably decide that Section 2(c) is too limited an interpretation and exercise his powers as Commander-in-Chief outside of the War Powers Act. Whether his doing so would be constitutional has not yet been resolved (to my recollection.)

The Albatross October 29, 2007 at 1:36 am

"working program will be the nail in the coffin for the dead laizze faire ideology that says government can't work for the better of its people and society as a whole."

If I remember right it is the government programs that are most adept at killing people. Then again, maybe Muirgeo is right, governments can sometimes move very efficiently. Talk to any Holocaust survivor and they will tell you how everything ran like clockwork–trains in, trains out, gas chambers filled, gas chambers out, ovens filled, ovens out.
For the love of God, this is the 21st century and we know better, should government exist?–yes, of course, since when the hell does Libertarian = anarchist.
But should government undertake those things that are best left up to the private sector? Well, people a hell of a lot smarter than me say no (Smith, Von Mises, Hayek, ect.) Those people in government who worked for the betterment of "the people" in Britain in the 60s and 70s succeeded in running a prosperous economy into the ground. They impoverished millions. Those who work for "the people" in North Korea have caused millions to starve, as did those who worked for "the people" in the Ukraine (the Holodor) and the old Soviet Union. Governments working for the betterment of their people often cause more harm than good, and even the most casual of history students knows better. Who received the most Marshall funds? The United Kingdom. Who received the least? West Germany (as in zero funds–well less than zero if you count the Allied looting). Who recovered and who did not? The UK stagnated, while West Germany grew rich.
Frankly, I'll give the state its AMT. Keep a third and leave me alone, but don't winge about things being underfunded. You have your third. The tyrant Phillip II only ever asked for a fifth.

ben October 29, 2007 at 2:12 am

Muirgeo, most of the comments on this page are either from you, or from responders pointing out the serious errors in your analysis.

Virtually nothing you write has anything to do with economics, correct or otherwise. You are destroying the comments section on this blog.

Gil October 29, 2007 at 2:34 am

. . . For the love of God, this is the 21st century and we know better, should government exist?–yes, of course, since when the hell does Libertarian = anarchist . . .
- The Albatross

Your comment reminds of the standard talk of many a 'minimalist' Libertarian, the guvmint is a good-for-nothing entity, killed millions of people, yet for some reason has a few good points that some Libbers still think it has a right to exist.

What again were those rights? The defense force? The police force? If guvmints have a notorious record for killin' the last things you'd want to give them is a monopoly of guns and ammo and tanks. Why can't the myriad of guvmint 'minimal services' be privatized completely? Why not private roads, private defense forces, gold and silver coinage, etc.? After all, aren't free-riders, monopolies, natural monopolies, market failures, etc., terms originating from ne'er-do-well, lefty, Marxist, Socialist types?

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