The dominant orthodoxy concludes that the American Revolutionary War could have been fought better without the Articles of Confederation’s voluntary payments system. However a noteworthy contribution that partly qualifies this conclusion is Keith Dougherty’s Collective Action under the Articles of Confederation. Dougherty finds that since states returned 41% of the money requisitions requested for the federal treasury between 1782 and 1789 and 53% of the men levied for the Continental army from 1777 to 1783, there was superficially a free rider problem (elsewhere, he cites historical research from Carp and Rische indicates that the continental military lacked supplies and numbers to buttress the finding that there was underprovision of defence).
Dougherty qualifies his finding, however, by noting that even though 100% of the requisitions requested were not fulfilled, the amounts contributed are still more than the pure theory of free riding would predict should have been contributed given the circumstances. The level of contributions can be explained with reference to a mixture of private and public interests; essentially, states contributed to the federal government when they felt that local interests would be benefited in doing so rather than primarily out of a sense of patriotism or civic duty to the confederation: ‘The system of requisitions did not give the states incentive to contribute to the confederation and the states contributed for other reasons’.
An alternative perspective is put forward by Russell Sobel, who disputes Dougherty’s implication that the Articles were an inferior method of financing. Sobel claims, firstly, that a low rate of collection from the states does not prove that the Articles had serious problems because the low rate reflects differing collection methods during the 1700s. Both during colonial times and under the Articles, liberty was given higher priority, and taxes were paid mostly by conscientious and patriotic citizens rather than exacted through force. For this reason the states themselves collected less than 50% of the taxes they levied on their own citizens, and consequently their failure to pass on large requisitions to the federal government is understandable in light of the fact that the efficiency of taxation was not as well developed as in the twenty first century. Second, due to the foregoing reason it is unlikely that even if a system of centralised direct taxation had been in place during the Revolutionary War that it would have raised vastly improved quantities of revenue. It was only during the 1860s that the Commission of Internal Revenue was established to administer the collection of taxation. Sobel points to the experience with direct taxation in 1798, which raised only half of the total amount due, as proof that no system could have raised large amounts of revenue during that period of history.
 Jack Rakove, ‘The Collapse of the Articles of Confederation’ in Jackson, Leonard and Masugi, The American Founding: Essays on the Formation of the Constitution (Greenwood Press, 1988) 225-45; Calvin Jillson and Rick Wilson, Congressional Dynamics: Structure, Coordination and Choice in the First American Congress, 1774-1789 (Stanford University Press, 1994) 239.
 W.E. Carp, To starve the army at pleasure (University of North Carolina Press, 1984); E. Risch, Supplying Washington’s army (Center of Military History, 1981).
 Keith Dougherty, ‘Defending the Articles of Confederation: a response to Sobel’ (2001) 109 Public Choice 141, 146.
 Russell Sobel, ‘In defence of the Articles of Contribution and the contribution mechanism as a means of government finance: A general comment on the literature’ (1999) 99 Public Choice 347-56.