Taxes and educational concerns of social democrats

January 17, 2022

Although the communicators of this political orientation are usually those who occupy the space of the intelligentsia, the truth is that the beliefs of social democracy are the majority around the world. However, it is necessary to challenge their sacred cows and encourage debate, even on the most contentious issues.

This weekend an interesting counterpoint was raised between Ernesto Tenembaum and deputy Javier Milei. The communicator thought of criticizing the libertarian position against the collection of taxes and its consequence in the financing of public education. However, instead of a one-sided criticism, the journalist opened the article to the economist so that he could state his utopian, but consistent position.

Although both are somewhat right in their points, the debate on educational problems can find a middle ground that anarcho-capitalists subscribe to, as well as intellectually honest social democrats. A program that would mean an improvement in educational terms, especially for children from lower-income families.

Let’s go first to the communicator’s argument. Faced with Milei’s position against the collection of taxes to finance the State, which the deputy considers an “armed robbery”, Tenembaum points out that all the countries of the world collect them. Therefore, and Although the libertarian audience gets angry, Milei’s doctrinal position (not her political agenda) is indeed utopian.

According to the Royal Spanish Academy, a utopia “is something desirable, but not feasible”. For a socialist, the application of communism in the terms of Marx could be a utopia. But nevertheless, experience has already shown that any model without private property ends up eliminating the price system, which makes centralized planning and its economic coordination impossible. The utopia of socialism, even if it is tried thousands of times more, the only thing it will leave is a greater balance in the number of victims of a failed and totalitarian system.

Although millions of people continue to defend this system, the political mainstream insists on emphasizing the utopia of Milei and not that of his neighbors on the bench of the Left Front. It may be that the projections in the polls suggest that the liberal space represents a threat in the real future, due to the evident exponential growth of the space.

However, beyond the meaning of impossible connotation that the RAE gives it, if we go to the Greek etymology of the word we can find a more optimistic interpretation. The word comes from the “u” and the “topos” that refer, literally, to the idea of ​​”nowhere”. At some point in history, respect for human rights was a utopia. Democracy, the end of monarchical absolutism, the vote and equality for women and so many other things were part of a utopia in the heads of people in the opposite direction. Not long ago, in the middle of the 19th century, the liberal thinker John Stuart Mill argued that women were not intellectually inferior, as mainstream science and politics at the time suggested.

Although taxes are collected in all countries of the world, social democracy should accept Milei’s point: that they are theft.

If someone has problems accepting the figure of the armed assailant, due to how violent the image is, we are going to make a conceptual statement. There are only two forms of resource transfers: voluntary and forced. In the first group are purchases, sales, gifts, loans, inheritances, and everything that has to do with people who decide to freely dispose of their property. In the second, logically, is the robbery. The coercion. To which of the two families do the taxes belong? If someone has any doubts, all they have to do is say the word “tax” out loud to reach the unequivocal conclusion. If anyone still doubts You can think about the physical consequences of evasion, in case the State applies them. There the violence and loss of freedom already becomes something more tangible.

Although tomorrow we continue to pay taxes, discussing their nature can raise the level of the discussion. At least the tax pressure from the moral issue would be put on the table, where and how it is spent and, above all, the incentives of the State. With these debates present in society and the media, Kirchnerism, for example, would have had to give up the idea of ​​naming the wealth tax as “solidarity”, it was going to be one time and now they want to make it permanent. Although it seems like a minor thing, the terminology issue plays a fundamental role in the political debate.

The fetish of social democracy, state buildings (and what many libertarians overlook)

On the question of public education, the Social Democrats seem to have a sacred cow that confuses means with ends. In every discussion show that the sentimental dogmatism with the so-called “public schools” ends up being more important than their purpose: education. An affective question that could only be resolved by going to the depths of the brain of moderate and well-intentioned statists.

If we are concerned about the educational issue, maintaining a rigid model of regulations and content regulated by the State, which is financed and supplied in the most inefficient way, would have to open an uncomfortable debate for many. Although it is not yet perceived, the truth is that formal schooling already lost its monopoly on education years ago. Many people today are trained and perfected through the tools of technology and free or low-cost Internet content. The consequences of this will be evident and indisputable within a few years. However, in Argentina, we continue to discuss as the only issue the importance of financing public schools without realizing that it is part of a model that, in general, multiplies the excluded who increasingly require it.

The biggest concern, obviously, is related to the education of children whose families do not have the resources to pay for private colleges and universities. However, there are several issues that are not part of this debate and it is not just the responsibility of the Social Democrats. That many libertarians focus on the immorality of taxes doesn’t help much either.

If the question of education is fundamental for people of all ideologies, a special regime should be thought of that would deregulate it completely, thus lowering the costs of the entry barriers of the so-called “private education”.

Without getting to the bottom of the tax issue, Why can’t we think that at least education can be offered “tax-free”? If most of the regulations that weigh on educational institutions were removed, and if its supply were deregulated, possibilities would appear for everyone. For the State to enable a primary, secondary, tertiary school or a college, there are so many requirements and barriers to entry that a bottleneck is produced where many potential bidders and applicants are left out of the game.

The day that the bureaucrats, and the unconditional defenders of their policies, consider it feasible for a group of teachers to have a private institute, for example, in their homes, for five or six students, the panorama will begin to change. If the State limits authorization and permission to basic issues (something we could also discuss in the future), competition can surprise all those who do not even suspect the power of the market. Of course unions are not the only ones that would lose privileges. The large companies that can meet the requirements would also come face to face with a new and revolutionary competition.

In short, since there is a lot to discuss about it, the debate on education should consider more revolutionary questions than the financing of a failed system.

Of course, to do so you have to remove certain dogmatic cobwebs, to which many people cling for cultural and sentimental reasons.

The application of a system of vouchers (that finances demand instead of supply) and the opening to new providers that today cannot enter the market would be synonymous with and guarantee of a new panorama that exponentially improves the education of those most in need. The implementation of this program it would be something that down-to-earth libertarians, who want to bring about change in the short term, could easily sign on to, as well as intellectually honest social democrats, Clear.

Surely, on this path there are many proposals that could put Milei in agreement with Tenembaum. But for that prejudices must be set aside, something that seems to cost a little more for social democrats who stand firm in certain dogmatic convictions, while libertarians have already landed in the mud of earthly politics.

For now, let the discussion continue.


Brief expedition to the strange brain of Javier Milei