I get a little queasy when fellow libertarians target programs for the poor and for ordinary folks while ignoring subsidies to big business and much larger spending programs that benefit big business interests at the expense of ordinary Americans. For my part, if I have to live under a government and pay taxes, and so far I do, I would much rather that the money stolen from me be given to poor people and working people than to the ruling elites. While I would rather keep my money and distribute it myself as I saw fit, I am much less irritated by its being spent on food stamps than lining the pockets of Halliburton executives and the clients of K Street lobbyists. It seems to be the only way that ordinary folks can extract something from their overlords. We have to make them pretend that the government works for our benefit and that their rule is benevolent. They are going to tax us at the maximum that they can anyway, so cutting benefits to ourselves will not line our pockets. It will line the pockets of the ruling elites.
I also get a little queasy when fellow libertarians attack democracy. I have problematized democracy myself, and I realize that having 51% of the population lord it over the other 49% would be unjust; however, we don’t even remotely live in a democracy. We have the appearance of democracy and nothing more; therefore, it is dishonest to blame the government we have on the electorate. I am even willing to consider that the electorate, if given the chance really to choose its government and leaders, would do a lot better job than the rulers we have now. Our rulers run the government entirely for their own benefit, only occasionally throwing a bone to the little people in the form of some entitlement or other or, more often, in the form of meaningless symbolic gestures. Neither of these concessions costs the rulers anything, since ordinary people as a class pay more in taxes and costs imposed by the state than they take out in entitlements or subsidies.
Our rulers pay a lot in taxes, and arguably that is how it should be since the whole government edifice exists for their benefit. It is a travesty that I and other working people like me have to pay to be surveilled, regulated, harassed and misinformed and to support a massive security and criminal justice apparatus working primarily for the benefit of our overlords. It was ever so. The serf paid with his labor for the swords that threatened him and for the adventures whereby his lords were enriched.
I’d “push the button” if I could, but no button is ever going to be presented to me. So I am stuck with lesser evils. I’ll go with poor and working class folks over the rich, and I’ll go with empowering the masses over being ruled by a small minority of elites. These are my default positions. I would prefer to destroy the state or replace it with alternative institutions not predicated on coercion, but I reckon that it is preferable to have a state that is accountable to my class and that works for my class interests than to have one that just plain robs me and works against my class interests. In fact, such a state would likely be smaller, less repressive and less active than what we have now. It would mostly just leave us the hell alone. Of course, an elitist dictatorship could be legitimized on the basis of benefiting the working class, but I don’t reckon that such a state would, in fact, fulfill the promises of its rhetoric and more than the current rulers do.
If I ever become king, the second thing I will do (after rounding up all my political enemies) is start cutting the government budget from the top down. Direct and indirect business subsidies will be the first to go working down to entitlements for the poor. I am hopeful that these entitlements will become increasing irrelevant as government shrinks and opportunities increase. I’ll abolish regulations from the bottom up by starting with regulations that benefit big business and represent barriers to entry into enterprises. I’ll cut taxes from the bottom up, steadily enlarging the proportion of the population that pays no tax at all. I’ll cut programs and agencies from the top down. In reforming government, I will move toward greater democratization (except for the office of king, of course) coupled with strict limits on governmental power. Eventually, I hope to have very little to do except for ceremonial functions and the exercise of jus primae noctis.