At the root of the difference between the Libertarian and welfarist-Utilitarian conception of optimal tax policy is the relationship of the individual to the state. The welfarist-Utilitarian model sees the state as an entity outside the individuals who compose it, in that the government puts in place policies that are optimal according to its own social welfare function. This function is dependent upon the individuals' welfare, but by combining them in a particular way the state assumes an authority to force individuals to act in ways with which they may disagree. In constrast, a Libertarian model sees the state as merely a collection of individuals who agree to cooperate only insofar as it serves their individual interests. Thus, all contributions by individuals to the state's activities must be voluntary, and the state has authority over individuals only insomuch as they wish to grant it.
Read the quote of the previous week.