If a country has a laissez-faire government, consisting of only courts, police and military, how much funds would it require to support these services?
Consider United States which has 300,000 million people. If each citizen pays 10 dollars a month to support these services, thats 3 billion dollars per month. Suppose each government person makes 10k a month, this means that 300,000 government employees, police, soldiers can be supported by this money. Recall that large companies such as Microsoft have up to 100,000 employees, so we can support the administrative and court responsibilities of government with such numbers of people. But what about the military? Isn't the largest expense for military that of building weapons? Each one of those rockets or fighter planes costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, although the technological age reduced the number of soldiers needed in the army, is 200,000 soldiers enough to defend United States?
Has anyone in the objectivist community made a calculation with respect to this question? Leonard Peikoff in his Q&A mentioned that it would take a postage stamp to support a laissez-faire government. Is there an article about this, breaking this down to numbers? What would be an exact number that all american citizens would need to pay to support a laissez-government? $10/month, $20/month, $100/month ?
As the number of citizens in a country is reduced, how would the citizen payment change? What would be the price to pay in Israel for example, which has 8 million people, but needs lots of weapons?
Can private companies reduce the cost of developing military weapons as a byproduct of their activities? Is it good if private companies will compete to land military contracts, or would this reduce to the present system of government hand-outs?
P.S. Whatever payment will be made to support the government, it can not be a percentage. A flat tax is still not a fair payment. Everyone should pay the same amount, irrespective of status, just as when people buy a movie ticket.
This is not a philosophical question. What's more, it can only be answered with a lot of understanding about what it takes to run a military -- efficiently.
What's more, is that when a productive people is militarily threatened, they will pay a lot to their military to help it win. But that depends on how much money they have saved up, what their income level is, etc.
It's also true that to have an effective military you need career leaders, well-trained soldiers, and specialized weapons, all of which require long-term investment in the military. Knowing just how much long term investment is required to create a military with the ability to win all expected wars (and some unexpected ones) is a hard problem.
Regardless, a voluntarily funded military will have to convince the public of its own necessity, and ideally without losing a war.
Again, though, this is not a philosophical question -- there are too many unknowns, and to venture a quantitative answer would be speculative.
answered Sep 15 '13 at 09:33
John Paquette ♦
From the original statement of the question and some of the follow-up comments by the questioner, it's not clear that the questioner is aware of Ayn Rand's main article on this topic, which Humbug described as follows (formatting added):
Rand covers this in Chapter 16, "Government Financing in a Free Society," Virtue of Selfishness. In essence, the military will cost as much as is necessary to defend society and no more. So in times of war, costs will go up. In times of peace, costs will go down.
This is an excellent and concise summation of some key points, although the chapter number is actually 15, not 16. The complete article should prove helpful to the questioner and others who have similar concerns. The article also discusses who would be most willing and able to pay the cost of a proper government, and why.
answered Sep 15 '13 at 18:40
Ideas for Life ♦