X-Message-Number: 23033
Date: Sat, 06 Dec 2003 21:40:38 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Taxation and Government Spending

Disclaimer: once again, I am not necessarily arguing in favor of current 
taxation policies, including how the money is spent, just calling for 
consideration of the issues involved rather than blanket condemnation.

#23023 (Jerry Searcy):

>23011: Mike, if individuals, business and corporations were free of all 
>the taxes, meddling regulations, and mandates, etc.
>there were be at least many billions and possibly trillions of extra 
>dollars free for those entities to spend as they wish. This is
>only my opinion but I believe there would be at least as much money 
>directed to scientific research as is now done by the
>government and maybe more.

This is a big part of the argument that, more or less, libertarianism would 
necessarily be better all around. I think it must prove itself, and it is 
not guaranteed that human nature will let it work as may seem self-evident 
to its more ardent proponents.

>When was the last time you heard of a government grantee being told "spend 
>this money as you see fit...and no
>need to contact us."?

About the only way you can get this kind of freedom is to use your own 
funds--if you have them.

>I have learned from talking with local (Las Vegas) friends, Alcor 
>personnel and cryonet posters that a
>large percent of people care nothing about the U.S. Constitution. 
>Nevertheless, where in that document is the federal
>government authorized to fund any kind of research?

Look at Article I, section 8: "The Congress shall have power to lay and 
collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide 
for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all 
duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United 
States." To "provide for the common defense" reasonably involves research 
to improve what means of defense one has already (otherwise we'd still be 
in the musket era). Many other government activities no doubt have been 
justified either by this provision or to provide for the "general welfare." 
Private companies too would have some interest in developing technology 
that could have military applications, but that would not be their primary 
focus. So historically (or for a long time anyway) it's been thought 
reasonable that the government should be involved in some sort of research 

>  If we are going to ignore that document we do so at great risk!

We aren't just "ignoring" that document if the federal government is 
permitted to fund research.

#23026 (Bill Walker):

>Mike, I confess that I work in a government research lab. There are a lot of
>smart people here... whiling away their postdoc years in the desperate hope
>that they'll be allowed to do some real work when they finally get out of 

I worked at a government-funded research establishment some years ago 
(National Center for Atmospheric Research, NCAR). There were some smart 
people there too, some frustrations, some waste of resources no doubt, but 
some good work got done too.

>It's like the pyramids; yes, the Egyptian government did confiscate the
>resources needed to build the pyramids. Does this mean that those 
>resources would
>have disappeared had they not been confiscated?

The resources would not have disappeared, but I doubt if you'd see much of 
them today, unlike the pyramids. Of course, these monuments were not made 
simply to inspire distant future generations. I would guess that overall 
the Egyptians felt that what the government/priesthood was doing was for a 
worthy cause, related to their beliefs in an afterlife and search for 
meaning. (No cryonics back then of course.)

>To advocate government research you have to assume that the government can
>allocate resources better than those who produced them.

When it comes to defense, though, I can see where people would say the 
government could handle it better than the private sector. This is what 
drives a lot of government research, though the situation has changed 
somewhat since the Cold War.

>In your case, you have
>to assume that a government that claims that using stem cells is immoral is
>going to use those resources the way you would.
>Is this likely? -Bill

Well, I'm no fan at all of the Bush administration's backward attitudes 
about biotech. I think Gore would have done better, despite any downsides. 
Hopefully in a few years things will improve in this area.

Mike Perry

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