Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Advancing Democracy Through Taxes?


The London Guardian presents an interesting take.

4 comments:

  1. ". . . giving every Iraqi an equal, inalienable share in a private holding company endowed with the society's oil and gas assets, and then requiring the state to tax the people in order to raise state revenues . . . "

    So how the heck would that work? Everybody alive today gets a share (which I guess is good if you have lots of children) but nobody born after today gets anything? Everyone gets a share now and each new baby gets awarded a share . . . but then what happens if the baby dies . . . and won't that mean that everyone's "inalienable" shares will forever decrease in value as the population goes up? Even if the "inalienable" shares go back to the government when someone dies, it still creates an incentive to have "lots" of kids so that you can maximize the amount of oil money you get each year.

    Even if we accept his thesis . . . wouldn't it make more sense to put the oil revenues into the government's coffers and then "promote democratic stability" by taxing the income of the Iraqi people? It seems like people will be a lot more "vested" in the decision making process that takes money out of their pockets that they actually "had" as opposed to money that they theoretically had but have never seen.

    CWD

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  2. It isn't that complicated, actually. Alaska has shared oil revenue with its citizens for years. And yes, you can vest an equal share of such revenues in all citizens, even though the percentile share would diminish with population growth.

    I think the author's concern is well-founded - that if you take the nation's leading source of wealth and hand it directly over to a government, you are most likely to end up with a "kleptocracy" than a "democracy".

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  3. . . . but Alaska doesn't create an "inalienable share" in its oil wealth for its citizens.

    So would you advocate a privitization of the oil fields?

    CWD

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