It is a great pleasure to see an argument full of hot air punctured with by a the cold, hard, stiletto steel of logic.
Tim Worstall argued at the Adam Smith Institute blog that:
… British Airways allows passengers, for a modest sum, to offset the carbon emissions from their flight. Roughly 1 in 200 actually do so, which would, on a strict reading of people’s preferences, mean that 0.5% of the flying population are prepared to pay more to avert climate change. … There really is a large difference between how much extra people say they would like to pay for things and how much extra they actually will pay. Probably has something to do with why taxes are usually mandatory rather than voluntary I suppose.
And in the comments, Patrick Hubble wields the intellectual stiletto that punctures Tim’s bubble:
Surely if asked the question, ‘would I rather pay more tax / pay more to save the environment / etc,’ a ‘yes’ answer means ‘yes, if everyone else does’, not ‘yes, I’m prepared to be a mug whilst everyone else freeloads on my generosity (stupidity)’.
That whistling sound you hear is a bag of hot air deflating.
What the hard line libertarians don’t get is that some choices only make sense if we make them collectively. Individually we would – rationally – make choices that lead to outcomes that are irrational for us collectively; and that is why we establish systems to enable us to make choices together. Government is such a system. The fact that people would choose differently if they were making an individual choice is not an argument against government, it is precisely the reason why we need it.