An Apology to Roberto Alsina

This post is off-topic from the main topics of the blog. It is written to defend from an accusation.

Yesterday I read through Roberto Alsina’s post where he described the inequities caused by the government of the city of San Isidro, province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, imposing a municipal tax on its residents in order to pay for various “services”, and further rules/laws at that and other government levels. This was done in the context of exploring game theory using Python.

The scenario is mostly anchored in reality (aside: USD100 monthly tax per house is probably not close to actual facts considering that Argentine average gross salary is about USD10,000 per year, but that can be forgiven since 100 is a nice round number). Roberto gave me the impression of siding with the poorer homeowners who sometimes cannot afford the tax and have no other alternative than to sell their residences (or suffer less palatable consequences).

However, I thought Roberto’s characterization of the city government as an impersonal player (“the city” playing solitaire as if nothing mattered) was an inaccurate representation. That led to an exchange of comments which ended with Roberto accusing me of comparing him to the pigs in Animal Farm and blocking me from further participation.

Therefore, I’d like to say that I never intended any disrespect. Animal Farm is an allegory for society. There are some people in society that believe they are “more equal than others” and as a result believe that they have the “right” to tell others what to do, e.g., force them to pay for some collective good, when it would be to the benefit of those less well-off to find some other way to deal with those needs, e.g., set up a neighborhood-level cooperative, barter for services, etc.

In a private email, Roberto answered that he does not believe some people have that “right” and I have to take him at his word, but he declined to further debate. Although I respect Roberto’s technical insights, e.g., his work on Nikola, and apologize for the implications of my comment which led to the accusation, I still hold that those who side with government taxation are, unintentionally, unknowlngly or unconsciously, agreeing with that “right”.

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