Symposium on Huemer's Problem of Political Authority, Libertarianism

Political Authority and the Basic Income

Lately I’ve been thinking about my reasons for endorsing a UBI, especially given that I also share Michael Huemer’s skepticism about political authority. Consider this case:

  • (1) Anne runs a business called PropertySystem, which manufacturers and maintains a private currency that can be traded for goods and services. The currency exists in users’ private accounts and Anne’s company provides security services for users. If someone tries to hack into the accounts she prevents them from doing so. The company also punishes users who violate the rules of PropertySystem. So if someone steals or tries to steal the currency from users, that person may have some of their currency taken away or they may even be held in one of PropertySystem’s jails. These services are financed through a yearly service fee.

This sounds fine. If everyone consented to join PropertySystem then they can’t really complain that Anne charges a fee for the services. There will be some questions about those who are not PropertySystem members, and how Anne’s company should treat them. But for the membership, consent seems to render what Anne is doing permissible. Next,

  • (2) Anne thinks that it would be morally better if she gave money to poor people. She changes the user agreement for her currency holders to increase her maintenance fee and she gives some of the money to poor people. Or, Anne decides to just print more money and mail it to people so that she doesn’t have to raise fees, even though this could decrease the value of the holdings of her richest clients.

By changing the user agreement or distribution system in this way, Anne doesn’t seem to violate anyone’s rights. And PropertySystem does some good through its currency and protection services by using the company to benefit people who are badly off. Now imagine,

  • (3) Anne decides that she doesn’t like PropertySystem competing with other providers so she compels everyone in a certain territory to use PropertySystem’s currency and protection services and to pay service fees, which she now calls taxes.

As Michael Huemer rightly points out, (3) is a significant injustice. If Anne acted like this, using threats of kidnapping and imprisonment to get people to sign up with her company, Anne would be doing something seriously wrong. This is the problem of political authority. Public officials, like Anne, are not entitled to coerce everyone to join and pay for a property system and citizens are not liable to be threatened or forced into joining.

This is Huemer’s objection to a guaranteed basic income. On his account, a basic income requires a tax system and “carrying out the coercive threats on recalcitrant citizens is practically necessary to maintaining a tax system in any realistic society.” Since a tax system that engages in wealth redistribution, like any tax system, is unjust, a basic income is unjust.

But this objection to a basic income isn’t an objection to wealth redistribution per se but rather with the coercive imposition of any property system. Once we acknowledge the initial injustice of forcing everyone to join a property system and pay taxes, it remains an open question how that system should be structured.

Consider an analogy. Bill takes Clive hostage. Taking Clive as a hostage is wrong. But given that Bill has taken Clive as his hostage, Bill could make Clive’s accommodations better or worse. Bill might say, “Not only have I made you my hostage, Clive, but I am also going to make it so you are hungry and so that my other hostages have enormous power over you!” Or, Bill could say, “You had no choice but to be my hostage, but I am going to try to minimize the harm of what I have done. Help yourself to the food in my well-stocked kitchen, and I’ll try not to bother you.” Similarly, if you are going to forcibly impose a property system on everyone, you should set up that property system in a way that tries to compensates people for the harm you have done while taking care to make it minimally burdensome to those you have wronged.

Once we concede that the imposition of a property system on all people is unjust, we should still ask the further question of how that unjust property system should be structured to not commit further injustices. It shouldn’t further violate peoples’ natural rights, it shouldn’t benefit some people enormously while leaving others to suffer from deprivation and domination, and it should refrain from additionally disrupting people’s ability to plan their lives as they choose.

Moreover, there are moral reasons in favor of Anne’s policy changes from (1) to (2). She changed the property conventions in ways that did not violate anyone’s pre-political ownership rights while still benefiting the badly off. If Anne implemented policy (2) after she started forcing everyone to join her company (3) it would still be morally better than policy (1) despite the fact that (3) is unjust.

This is the reason I favor a basic income. Such a policy balances the reasonable complaints that people may have about the effects of a property system that they never consented to join. Though redistribution cannot justify forcing everyone to join a property system, it can at least compensate people who are very badly off partly because they were forced to join that property system. Some people will do very well under a property system that nevertheless violates their rights. But it is not a further rights violation if a property system doesn’t benefit the rich as much as it possibly could.

  • Jerome Bigge

    The very common mistake most people make is that the free market determines the value of what people produce. What the free market does is to “price” the factors of supply and demand as such. However a free market does not exist in a society where the power of government can determine the value of anything. A good example of this is government enforced monopolies of one kind or another.

    Government enforced monopolies are things like intellectual property laws, professional licensing, government support of organized labor which first occurred during the Roosevelt administration. Effectively the power of government is exploited to alter the relationship between supply and demand in favor of certain groups as opposed to others. The major effect of this is to increase the incomes of those “protected” while at the same time effectively reduce the incomes of those who are not “protected” by forcing them to pay more for goods and services than otherwise because those who are “protected” can charge more for their goods and services than what would be the case without such “protection”.

    So should these people who benefit from government “protection” pay more taxes? In effect they earn higher incomes because the power of government prevents the free market from operation in their case. Take away professional licensing, favorable laws benefiting those working in the professions, and their income would be considerably less than what is today because of the “protection” they receive from “government” (local, state, federal) from free market competition by others who could very well perform some of the same things that they do…

    As a “thought experiment”, consider what it would be like if all of these laws that benefit certain groups of people were repealed… They would no doubt suffer a considerable drop in their incomes from what they now enjoy. What would the income of physicians look like without having a legal monopoly over access to prescription level medical drugs? What would the income of lawyers look like without their legal monopoly over most aspects of the law? The same would be true of all of those who now enjoy government protection against free market competition. So how much of their income is dependent upon a legal monopoly enforced by the power of government? This portion of their income isn’t “earned” as such, but is obtained because they have the power to extract it from everyone else. The same thing is of organized labor, which can extract higher incomes and more benefits from employers than what they could if their union didn’t exist. In this aspect we can also add those working under “Civil Service”, which in some ways operates much as a labor union does in giving government workers more income and benefits than what they could obtain from private employers.

    In effect to at least some degree, your income is dependent upon the amount of “power” you have, either through economic organization or through political favors of one kind or another. Often sheer “size” is enough to prevent the free market from operating, especially in fields where it is difficult for new competitors to establish themselves. And large businesses do have more influence upon the political system since they can finance political campaigns of those they favor.

    Perhaps the issue of the progressive income tax is more complex than we think.

    • Innu_Endo

      I wish the rest of my fellow Libertarians could see the present. The ‘economic principles of the past’ will not fit in a world of scarce employment. Why do our bright commentators like Jessica research the past in an article about today when the world isn’t what it was yesterday? . Where is our speculations on a realistic scenario of we are actually facing? The old economics are about labor & production while today’s economic elephant has morphed into a hot world, over-populated, w/ an ever-increasing number of uneducated workers when the few educated we have can’t find jobs b/c fewer and fewer workers are required to produce the world’s goods and services? When will our thinkers connect w/ the trajectory humanity appears to be on? How do we deal w/ populations that will never be required to “lend a hand” because hands are no longer what jobs require? What happens when the availability of the “job creators” to create work in businesses whose business requires only a few suits to check on the machines? The writers here are reactionary rather that anticipatory. And the comments happily push it along. The readers here seem to be pondering ways to hand on to unfair practices and privileges while tsk-tsking the less fortunate instead of considering how to modify what is becoming a decadent and failing system that in its current form cannot provide a day’s work for a day’s pay + sufficient profit to ‘motivate’ a job creating ownership when ownership is constantly reducing the need for a ‘work force’ while producing a greater number of products?

      • Jerome Bigge

        Check out my blog at “”.

        What doctrinaire Libertarians have forgotten is that in
        order to achieve political power, you first have to offer
        what large numbers of people will now support. That
        it has to offer things that the majority will be willing
        to vote for against the interests of a vested minority.

        Jerome Bigge
        Repeal Prescription Laws for real Health Care Reform!

  • TracyW

    So we should pay compensation to people who’d be very good hunter-gatherers, but such at modern society?
    How do we identify those people?

    • Theresa Klein

      Take the ratio of physical strength over IQ and award the people with the highest scores.

      We must compensate dumb jocks because the property system unfairly prevents them from beating up skinny nerds and taking their lunch money.

      • TracyW

        I like the sentiment but from what I have read from anthropologists’ descriptions, hunting and gathering are quite knowledge-intensive activities.

  • Simonjh

    The implications of this argument would seem to be that, under present governmental arrangements, redistribution is potentially justified. I say potentially because it would seem to be contingent on the present system having made those who will be recipients of distribution, worse off. However, under a properly just system, redistribution would be unjust. I do not disagree with the argument presented, but the result is strange. Redistribution is only justified under an unjust system -but under what we wish for, it is not. So what will the poor receive under a just system? It is hard to imagine that there will not be some poor people around.

    • Michael Byrnes

      But even just systems are going to be gamed, at times. There are always going to be people who find ways to game whatever regulatory system exists. (Obviously this goes on today, but even a system with minimal regulations – or none at all – could be gamed).

      Of course, libertarians tend to favor settling disputes via the court system rather than trying to preempt then with regulation. But does anyone really think that it would be possible to have a system where every just claim ended in a just settlement? If not, then the system is, to some extent, transferring wealth from the gamed to the gamers.

      I think that no matter how just the system (and we are certainly far from that now), there may be some justification for redistribution.

  • TracyW

    .” Similarly, if you are going to forcibly impose a property system on everyone, you should set up that property system in a way that tries to compensates people for the harm you have done while taking care to make it minimally burdensome to those you have wronged.

    Call me crazy, but shouldn’t you set up a property system that actually is overall beneficial?

  • Theresa Klein

    I think the problem with your approach is that it doesn’t work well as an analogy to society as a whole because it presupposes that there is some entity “Anne” that is doing the “imposing” of the property system.

    What if, instead of “Anne” creating a property system and forcibly imposing it on everyone it was more like:
    (4) A cloud-based group of internet hackers got together and created this open-source property system which worked very well for everyone. It soon became the standard that everyone used because it was efficient and fair. Soon it became embedded in everyone’s operating system. Many years later, the operating system is “acquired” by a large monopolistic internet conglomerate, which proceeds to ban all other operating system including open-source ones. The conglomerate then decides to change the property code so that it distributes cash to the poor.

    So your answer to this is “Well, if a monopoly is going to control the property system, then they should use the nice, hand-out-free-cash one”. But what you’re missing is that the original property system wasn’t something that was imposed by force but something that evolved organically, because it worked. So basically what you are doing is ruining a system that worked well.

    • Theresa Klein

      I’m going to elaborate on this a little bit more.
      Suppose the original PropertySystem never required a central authority to enforce at all, it was just a two-party exchange protocol. Everyone was using it willy-nilly to make exchanges, but sometimes hackers would be able to make fake exchanges and run of with people’s currency. So, then someone else on top of the exchange protocol, decides to offer a security service for a fee. The security service uses the exchange protocol too, to collect the fees. But you could still engage in completely insecure unmediated transactions without using the security layer. However, overtime, most people tend to use the security layer, and it too becomes embedded in the standard operating system. You just have to go through the settings for your property system application and disable the security layer if you don’t want to pay the fee. However, one day, the evil corporation that controls the operating system decides that it is going to take out the option to disable the security layer, to force everyone to use the security system all the time. So now people can no longer engage in unmediated transactions using just the exchange protocol.

      So now let’s ask the question:
      Who is the injustice against?
      (a) the people who are no longer able to engage in unmediated transactions ?
      (b) people who don’t have any property to exchange in the first place?
      (c) the hackers who can’t get away with making fake exchanges?

    • Les Kyle Nearhood

      yes, I was going to point out that his points two as well as three were immoral, for the reason you describe.

  • Eelco Hoogendoorn

    Thanks, this article articulates my view on the matter better than I have so far; ill keep it bookmarked!

  • Fritz

    What has really happened, in the United States, is something like this: The original “system” — the U.S. under the Constitution that was ratified by some of the people in 1788 — imposed a more intrusive central government on all of the people living within the geographical area defined as the United States. The constituent jurisdictions — the States and their political subdivisions — were characterized greater and lesser degrees of intrusiveness. With the exception of slaves, U.S. citizens were free to move to jurisdictions that they found more congenial. The westward expansion of the United States under minimalist territorial governments made “exit” an especially attractive and viable option from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. With all of this competition for constituents, and with the end of slavery (but not of government-imposed racial discrimination), negative liberty reached an apogee (for whites, at least) during the late 1800s. The Progressives of the late 1800s and early 1900s then began to impose the paternalistic designs of powerful minorities on the populace as a whole. There have been some pauses in the accretion of power by the central government, and a few reversals in selected areas (e.g., “deregulation” of some industries, accompanied by an general increase in regulation of most economic activity), but the centralization of power has grown steadily since the Progressive Era, and the exit option has became a nullity.

    Plugging that bit of potted history into your taxonomy, I would say that Americans began at (3). Some Americans then had a shot at (1), for a while, but we’re all back at (3) now. And income redistribution is nothing more than another aspect of (3), which Americans have been unable to escape since the closing of the frontier. Further, sorting out who “deserves” to be a distributee and who deserves to be a distributor would require sorting through the history of all the laws and regulations of the the United States and its subdivisions and tracing their effects — for good and ill — down to the individual persons who are now citizens of the U.S. That assumes, of course, that the conditions under which persons came to the U.S. (or the U.S. came to them) are irrelevant, which they aren’t, really.

    Any less-complex redistributive formula is destined to discriminate in favor of those persons (or classes of persons) favored by the formulator, at the expense of those not favored by the formulator. Slavery, though different in degree, was the same kind of formula.

  • Drew Stonebraker

    When Bill tries to minimize the harm to hostage Clive, aren’t there ways in which it would be more analogous to UBI if you explain that Bill is feeding Clive by taking additional people hostage in order to pay Clive’s welfare? If anything which involves violating other people’s rights is prohibited in your program to improve hostage welfare, then it’s not clear to me that my clarified situation with Bill and Clive is acceptable.

    On the other hand, it seems you don’t explicitly say that taxation is unjust, only that imposing an entire property system without consent is unjust. But isn’t the Anne’s taxation a significant part of *why* her forced property system seems unjust?

  • martinbrock

    But this objection to a basic income isn’t an objection to wealth redistribution per se but rather with the coercive imposition of any property system.


    Once we concede that the imposition of a property system on all people is unjust, we should still ask the further question of how that unjust property system should be structured to not commit further injustices.

    But I don’t accept the inevitability of imposing a particular property system. People may have a choice of property systems. Maybe a property system effectively requires something like a micro-state, a well-defined territory excluding people who do not consent to the system everyone consents, but as long as these micro-states (that I’m still willing to call “communes”) are many and varied and may only govern resources in proportion to the number of people consenting to their governance, such a liberal archipelago does not impose a particular property system on anyone.

    I’m much less interested in any particular formulation of a UBI than in how we get from a single state ruling 300 million people in central North America to this liberal archipelago. The closer we get to this ideal, the more opportunity people like Anne, who are Property System entrepreneurs, have to offer their Property Systems to a free market of Property System consumers, for whom adherence to particular standards of propriety is the price of associating with others adhering to the same standards. Such systems can certainly establish UBIs, but the plural makes all the difference here. I don’t want a UBI. I want a choice of UBIs.

    • Theresa Klein

      I think what she’s arguing is that given that some specific property system is going to be imposed, it’s better to have one that is redistributive. Alternatives to the state aren’t on the table.

      But I do not agree. If it is unjust that a particular property system is imposed on all, it’s not at all clear that the people to whom it is unjust are going to be a uniformly overlapping group with those who wind up with the least property.

      Secondly, she seems to think that the property system is imposed by some external entity outside of society, not something that arose from a system of informal social interactions. Not that historically property rights have always been fairly distributed, but there are some basic rules that seem intuitively correct, like if you make something, you own it, and you get to sell it.

      Thirdly, supposing we can identify specific injustices in the property system that lead to identifiable victims. Is not then the correct solution to correct those specific injustices by changing those rules, rather than to willy-nilly distribute money to all poor people?

      • TracyW

        On your first point, it has long struck me that the heavily disabled are the biggest beneficiaries of modern society, as opposed to say 40 year old healthy hedge fund managers. If you’d die in 3 hours if disconnected from an electricity supply you wouldn’t survive in a hunter-gatherer world.
        Unfortunately these people tend to not have much money.

      • martinbrock

        I understand Jessica’s thesis, but I won’t accept the principal assumption, even for the sake of argument. We can discuss various formulations of a UBI (“universal” within a free association) without this assumption.

        I agree that people with the least material wealth are not necessarily the people with the least justice, but I don’t much like the word “justice” anyway. I don’t want a “just” society as much as I want a society satisfying people’s preferences, or satisfying people’s preference is my idea of “justice”.

        I don’t see how imposing any one-size-fits-all (really one-size-fits-powerful-constituents-of-a-state) solution to any problem can satisfy people’s preferences optimally. If we’re going to argue hypothetically, I’m only interested in a stateless or tiny state hypothesis. I don’t need Bleeding Heart Libertarians to take a huge, even totalitarian, state for granted. I have the rest of the world for that.

        Thirdly, …

        We seem to have disagreements here, because you seem to be slipping into the statist assumption yourself. We cannot identify injustices in the property system leading to identifiable victims in any ivory tower. We can only know that a property system violates a person’s preferences by asking the person, and the only solution to this problem is an association of like-minded persons with resources sufficient to realize their preferences, however productive this realization may be.

        People should be entitled to the wealth that their interactions, mediated by any property system they prefer, generates, and if they want to distribute some of this wealth to every member of the association to meet essential needs, regardless of individual productivity, that’s a completely legitimate thing for them to do. I don’t at all assume that the materially wealthiest associations will have the happiest people or will be the most persistent, and I don’t assume that the most individualistic associations will be the wealthiest either.

        • Theresa Klein

          Let me put it this way. It seems as though she’s arguing that there are some people who were better off under a hypothetical system that existed prior to the property system, who are therefore harmed by the imposition of the property system. But I have a hard time understanding who these people are and what system she thinks they would be better off under. Is she supposing there was some pre-property system in which any individual could just kill and eat any cow they wanted? Or to be even more precise, that there was a system in which you could go and take the meat off of someone else’s plate from the cow they killed, and that would be ok and perfectly allowed (but the evil property system unfairly stopped people from doing that)? Does she think there’s a plausible society in which any member of the tribe could go take what they want from the collective grain bin, whenever they wanted, without restriction?
          No such society has ever existed, nor could it ever.
          There is no plausible scenario in this reality in which people can simply use any resource they want, unless you want to count the right of the strong to take whatever they can get away with. So are the physically strong being harmed because they can’t beat up the guy next to them and take their food under the property system? I think it’s more plausible that she thinks the weak are harmed because they can’t produce anything to trade, but there’s no reason to think that the weak would fare better in a propertyless system. Only in the fantasy reality where resources are infinite and mana falls from heaven would establishing property rights harm these people, because any realistic society is going to limit who has access to essential resources. In other words, they are going to establish a property system, otherwise the tribe quickly ends up starving to death.
          To use your terminology, who are the people whose preferences are violated by the imposition of a generic property system? The people who just want to use whatever they want whenever they want it?

          • martinbrock

            A real, existing property system is never generic. The devil is always in the details, but I’m not suggesting that the whole idea of property is devilish. I’m only suggesting that “property” can (and should) mean different things to different people. There are many possible alternatives to anyone using whatever he wants whenever he wants it, not only one alternative. There are many possible formulations of a UBI. We need not begin a discussion of these possibilities by assuming that the ultimate goal of the discussion is imposing a single formulation on everyone everywhere.

    • Al Bundy

      I’d like to see what the BHL bloggers have to say about your conception of the perfect libertarian society- or rather societies,- as it’s quite interesting and different from everything else I’ve read here.

      In a way, you’re taking the libertarian commitment to voluntary/consensual exchange and demanding it be applied to the property framework undergirding markets as well (rather than just assuming traditional property rights universally).

  • Curious

    The idea that a private property system is imposed on people, in the same way as taking someone hostage, is bizarre. It’s argument by analogy gone off the rails. Do we need more scholarship to lay out the human state of nature, so to speak? Why are people starting from such a bankrupt place, as though we know nothing about human nature or the needs of human flourishing? Humans have been trading with each other forever, and our nature and needs as physical beings engaged in long-term plans, whose survival is contingent, makes the need for property quite clear. Why do philosophers know so little about this? I don’t understand what’s happening.

    • Monopoly on Violence

      Agreed. We have a collective interest in limiting violence. A state is a monopoly on violence. Now what that state does with that monopoly beyond keep people from killing each other and taking each other’s property by force gets thorny, but it should be clear that the problem with anarchy is that anyone can form a government. There is no magic place absent violence. And pretty much every place that arranges private rather than public defense against violence (i.e. failed states where a government lacks a monopoly on violence) are objectively worse places to live than the places places with a government, let alone a democratic government, that has such a monopoly on violence because it has the power to tax.

  • Once coercion has been rationalized and people capitulate to coercion and the rule of a few over the many, the many don’t get to pick the ideal forms of coercion. This mindset and the concept of benevolent rulers have misled central planners and caused misery for millions and millions (billions and billions, actually) for a long, long time, yet we keep the flame of central planning burning, hoping that our ideas and plans will be the ones that work for the least fortunate, while not creating a too heavy burden on the fortunate. This justification for UBI is meaningless. A mental exercise, but not a very interesting one.

  • getfreight

    Nobody owes anybody anything unless the provide a service, product, etc…. So the proposal is to pay people to exist and not produce or contribute in some, shape, or form. Sounds like socialism. So why is the use Why isn’t it

    If a government or any entity is powerful enough to give everything. They can take everything.

  • apotatofarmer

    This is the reason I favor a basic income.”

    Two or more wrongs make a preferable system of wrongs?

    You say a bunch of words, but ultimately it comes down to the same old argument “We should rob everyone and spend the spoils as I see fit.”

    “Once we acknowledge the initial injustice of forcing everyone to join a
    property system and pay taxes, it remains an open question how that
    system should be structured.”

    It should be structured so it ceases to be ASAP.

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  • Steve Godenich

    The fatal flaw in either system is ‘Anne’, not to demean the good intentions. ‘Anne’ is the owner and decision maker of the system and, as such, has self-interest for ‘Anne’. And so it is even more the nature with the successors of ‘Anne’ who may tend to lose sight of the original unwritten vision of ‘Anne’. There is no required incentive for ‘Anne’ or her successors to maintain a system that benefits everyone in at least a minimum sense to keep the system intact beyond their tenure in ‘propertysystem’ (whether viewed objectively or subjectively).

    All stakeholders in ‘propertysystem’ may be given a vote in how much currency is created, destroyed and dispensed for their self-interest, but this sets up a battle of interests between the self-interests of the fewer number of large stakeholders and the self-interests of the larger number of smaller stakeholders.

    A profit::loss (GDP::Debt) goal to assure at least a minimally sufficient amount of profits/dividends (liquidity) needs to be realized by each individual participant in ‘propertysystem’ . This ‘check of balance’ is needed so debt does not spiral out of control by giving too much out freely (causing inflation) and/or borrowing too much (causing increased debt, interest, taxes and/or more borrowing from Peter to pay Paul).

    Whether ‘Anne’, her successors, government or the central bank manages the system, the ‘check of balance’ needs to be built into the system and clearly understood by all participating stakeholders so informed decisions can be voted upon to both keep ‘propertysystem’ in fiscal equilibrium and working properly for all stakeholders now and in future generations regardless of any inferior management. Otherwise, poorly thought out, less than optimal, unconventional methods may be used each time a financial crisis occurs.

    I do not see this adequately addressed in Minimum Income, Negative Income Tax or today’s new flavor of Basic Income. Until a check of balance is specified, there is little to recommend it to classical liberals, let alone libertarians. Our status quo system has even less demonstrated merit, although beneficiaries of a flawed system may praise it.

    I haven’t read where Rhys-Williams addresses this ‘check of balanc’ issue, satisfactorily. Friedman speaks of a ‘neighborhood effect’ in ‘Capitalism & Freedom’. Rothbard’s critical comments on this topic today might get him slapped by ‘Anne’. Hayek only says in ‘Road to Serfdom’ to be careful how you set up ‘first order’ minimum income or you may be sorry, then exits stage left (either by government or civil society).

    Many people speak of ‘redistribution’ in a negative sense where ‘liquidity’ may be a more useful term. At least central banks like to use the term ‘liquidity’ in preference to ‘redistribution’.

  • jtkennedy

    Jessica, Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me you’re attempting to get undue mileage out of calling a currency “PropertySystem”, and thereafter referring the currency as a “property system”. Are you saying property is coercive in nature?

  • jtkennedy

    “If Anne implemented policy (2) after she started forcing everyone to join her company (3) it would still be morally better than policy (1) despite the fact that (3) is unjust.”

    When you move to (2) some participants pay to provide for others. That’s fine if they consent (1) but an additional harm to those paying for others if they don’t consent (3). That harm is not justified by the benefit as is shown in Huemer’s example of Uncle Sam in the Huemer’s original Cato essay.

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