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agrajag comments on Are wireheads happy? - Less Wrong

109 Post author: Yvain 01 January 2010 04:41PM

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Comment author: agrajag 14 November 2011 10:24:26AM 5 points [-]

Getting this point across is difficult, and it's a common problem. For example, I'm from Norway and favor the system we have here with comparatively high taxes on the high earners, and high benefits. When I discuss economics with people from other political systems, say Americans, invariably I get a version of the same:

If I'm happy to pay higher taxes, then I can do that in USA too -- I can just donate to charities of my choice. As an added bonus, this would let me pick which charities I care most about.

The problem is the same as the polluting though: By donating to charities, I reduce the need for government-intervention, which again reduces the need for taxes, which mostly benefit those people paying most taxes.

That is, by donating to charities, I reward those people who earn well and (imho) "should" contribute more to society (by donating themselves) but don't.

So that situation is unstable: The higher the fraction of needed-support is paid for trough charitable giving, the larger is the reward for not giving.

Comment author: SilasBarta 14 November 2011 03:20:24PM 1 point [-]

Glad to hear your take on the issue and know that I'm not alone in having to explain this. Coincidentally, I just recently put up a blog post discussing the unilateral disarmament issue in the context of taxes, making similar points to you (though not endorsing higher tax rates).

Comment author: phob 20 December 2013 09:37:24PM 0 points [-]

This is a really good point. On the other hand, it is a more convincing argument for stronger interventionist policy than it is against charity.