Saturday, January 25, 2014

Contraception and User Fees

It seems that some folks are miffed over Mike Huckabee’s recent comments on taxpayer funded contraception.  State funded birth control is an outstanding example of how the contributions of the many are used to fund the welfare of a select few.



In many such cases libertarians have advocated for user fees – where those who benefit directly pay for services received.  Such is the case is with toll roads, toll bridges and tunnel fees.  Those who traverse these arteries offset the cost of building and maintenance.  This is also the rationale for gasoline taxes at the pump, that is, to fund road upkeep.  If you are buying gas, you must be driving on publicly maintained roads.  Therefore you indirectly pay for this privilege via gas taxes.

This funding method applies neatly to contraception.

The first and most obvious beneficiary of contraception is the woman herself.  It would seem only fair for her to have skin in the game.  In the event that this particular lady is not heterosexually active she would be sole beneficiary and the burden of cost would fall directly on her.  This would also appear to be a waste or misallocation of pharmaceutical resources for which she should bear sole responsibility.

However, should said woman take on a male lover, we would now have two people sharing the utility of child free relations.  In that case it would be inequitable for the woman to bear the cost alone.  It would be only fair for the man to share the cost burden with her.  For argument’s sake, let’s say half.

The question now becomes, how would a progressive government enforce this cost sharing?  Let me offer a simple proposal.

At her request, each and every woman who is seeking contraception assistance would receive thirteen Partner Identification Forms (PIFs) from the IRS – one form for each ovulatory and pharmacological cycle.  Prior to commencing upon relations with her partner in any given 4-week cycle, the woman will require the man to attest that he did receive conjugal utility from her during that period and to provide standard taxpayer ID information – name, address, DOB and SSN.

At the end of the tax year, the participating woman would simply turn in her PIDs along with her tax return form to be reimbursed for half of her contraceptive cost during each of those periods in which she had documented relations.  She would receive a full tax credit which would be fully offset by corresponding surcharges to the lucky guy.

You may ask, what if she has multiple men in any given period?  Does the first man in have to pay the full freight while the trailing lovers become free riders?  Absolutely not!  This is where economic incentives and economies of scale kick in.

Should a second partner enter the picture within a given four week cycle, the woman would simply collect his information as she did the first.  Then, for that period, the contraceptive cost would be evenly split three ways.  The same would hold for partners three, four, five, etc, etc, ad infinitum.  This is illustrated on the following graph.



We see two economic principles at work.  The first is “economies of scale”.  The more partners, the lower the contraceptive cost per partner.  The second is incentives.  The more people that are involved, the more each participant saves.  For a “working girl” in Vegas or simply a patriotic volunteer during Fleet Week, the cost share could approach zero for all concerned.

Even the most hard bitten Socialist would have to admire such distributive justice.

Now here’s a Lucky Strike Extra for National Security worry warts.   Uncle Sam would, for the first time ever, have a vivid picture of who’s in bed with whom.  Literally.

Applying simple economics to what, for Governor Huckabee, is a thorny political problem fairly distributes costs upon those who are receiving erotic utility while sparing non-participating taxpayers the double insult of not getting any while paying for others’ good times.  And this does not even count the treasure trove of information that will accrue to the national security state at no additional cost.


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