A reader responded with a comment, and I commented in return. Both comments are given in full below. I welcome any comments or reactions that you may have. Again, this is getting at the rival philosophies of how government should work; a very relevant topic right now. It is my hope to get people to talk about it, consider other sides, and debate things civilly more on merits than on ideology. So, without further ado…
The situation in NYC seems to make a very strong argument against any type of public system; whether it be public transportation, public education, etc. What other result should be expected when an institution, in this case the government, takes peoples’ money by force and decides which products the people will receive in return? There is no way for everyone, or possibly anyone, to be satisfied in this type of system. You claim people need to realize this fact and be content with what they have. I say this is not freedom at all. Freedom is when a consumer has the ability to decide where to spend his money and what he wants to purchase.
But most people don’t complain about government taking tax dollars by force to build and maintain roads and other infrastructure for cars. Even you have said before that government must perform this task (because there is no other entity that can). So, if roads are publicly owned, why, especially in New York City, should the roads not support other forms of transportation? In truth, it’s all about perspective. You can argue that public investment in bike and pedestrian infrastructure is bad but the same investment in automobile infrastructure is good because you are not interested in alternative transportation. But I can argue the exact opposite; that public investment in automobile infrastructure is bad and the same investment in alternative mobility is good because I am interested in promoting walking, biking, and transit. The saying goes something like: “Government is bad except when it benefits us.”
Now, you could argue that because government should only produce streets for cars, I should not be forcefully taxed for this since I don’t want to use that infrastructure. But if this is the way infrastructure taxes worked, we would have by far the poorest infrastructure in the industrial world (perhaps we would have no industry at all). We already have a $2 trillion + infrastructure deficit. We should either tax everyone and provide for everyone, or make a completely voluntary tax contribution and become a third-world country (most people will not voluntarily contribute to the government). Or, we could keep taxing everyone, providing for some, and borrowing from China to pay for it. Which would you rather? I really cannot see any other options.
I don’t think freedom, in the societal sense, can exist without a government providing the infrastructure and policies to support it. Our government does not completely support this type of freedom for everybody, but the remedy for this isn’t to throw government out entirely (“throw the baby out with the bathwater,” if you will). This is like closing a restaurant because there are some complaints from customers that they don’t serve tacos or their fish is over-priced. Instead, the restaurant should adapt by serving tacos and finding a way to reduce the price of their sea food. In the same way, government should adapt to better support freedoms rather than completely giving up that support altogether. Do you disagree?
Well, do you?