One day Satan went up to a Republican and said, "I want to buy your immortal soul. How much will you sell it for?"
"Gosh, you're asking a lot!" said the Republican. "But I guess I call sell my soul. Only, I don't sell cheap. Let's see. Two years ago, I ran for State Assembly and lost. This coming November, I want to win that State Assembly race. I want to hold my seat for ten years. Then I want to be elected governor, then re-elected. Then I want to be elected President, and hold that for two terms. And when I retire, I want a minimum $10 million a year from consulting fees and corporate lobbying, all of it legally secure from the IRS, thanks to my tax attorneys."
Satan said, "Done!"
Then Satan went up to a Democrat and said, "I want to buy your immortal soul. How much will you sell it for?"
"Wow, that's pretty greedy of you!" said the Democrat. "But I suppose I can sell my soul. However, I drive a hard bargain. Let me think. Two years ago, I ran for Congress and lost. This November, I want to win that Congressional seat. I want to remain in Congress for ten years. Then I want to be elected to the Senate, then re-elected. Then I want to be appointed Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. And I want at least $10 million a year on the side from speaking fees and book deals, none of it subject to ethics or conflicts of interest probes."
Satan said, "Done!"
Then Satan went up to a Libertarian and said, "I want to buy your immortal soul. How much will you sell it for?"
"Man, you're asking for everything!" said the Libertarian. "But, yeah, I'll sell you my soul. Only, it's gonna cost you big time. Let me see. Two years ago, I ran for a seat on the Fifth District Sewage & Drainage Board. I only got 1% of the vote. This November, when I run again, I want 2%."
You liked my joke? I thought it up after I sent an email off to a purist, in which I'd said:
Demopublicans sell their souls to win wealth, power, and glory. Libertarians sell their souls so they'll lose, but with an extra 0.5% in their vote totals.
And it's true. Some Libertarians will sell out all their principles, just so they can lose by a slightly higher vote total.
Or as Parker Posey said in Clockwatchers: "Isn't it a shame when friends betray friends? And for what?!"
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I'm from California as well. Having served in Afghanistan I witnessed first hand that people over there appreciate freedom as much as we do. So given a choice, I would allocate a certain percentage of my taxes to help fund the war effort over there.
With that in mind I've "co-opted?" the term "pragmatarianism" to refer to allowing people to directly decide which public goods their taxes help support. Searching via google for "pragmatarianism" is how I found your blog.
Solely applying free-market principles to public goods wouldn't work because too many people would free-ride off the contributions of others. The pragmatarian approach acknowledges the need for coercion while recognizing that the invisible hand is more efficient at allocating resources than the visible hand (congress).
So on one hand, pragmatarians appreciate that forcing government organizations to compete for funding will result in maximum government efficiency. And on the other hand, pragmatarians respect that nobody should have to pay for public goods that they do not value.
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