Sunday, October 05, 2008

It's not just the BBC audiences, Dan

Dan Hannan listened to the Any Questions programme and found out that the vast majority of audience members on said programme are a bunch of unthinking, ignorant morons who are busy dragging the rest of us into their cesspit of totalitarian bullshit.
The difference is not that Boris is political, but that he is elected. And that's what seems to bother a hefty chunk of you. You'd rather be governed by "experts", however lamentable their results. Coppers who think that speed cameras are more important than foot patrols? Judges who see it as their chief duty always and everywhere to overturn deportation orders? Teachers who think that literacy is a bourgeois hang-up? Nothing you can do about it, I'm afraid. And don't come complaining to me: you were the one cheering the dolt on Any Questions who wanted to "let the professionals get on".

It sounds like Master Hannan has finally lost his rag, and I'm not surprised. Is anyone surprised at the reaction of this audience? I certainly am not. Depressed? Certainly—but not surprised.

As Churchill had it, democracy is merely the least worst form of government; even so, it's a pretty fucking long way from being even satisfactory (especially when socialism is pursued).

But how to improve it? Well, that's a difficult question and I'm not sure that it has an answer. However, I would advance this suggestion: only those who are nett contributors to the Treasury should be allowed to vote.

This would bring the putative voting age to 16, of course, which is not entirely unjust: if you work, you should have some say in how your money is spent.

It would take out of the equation those who languish on Benefits and who will thus vote readily for the party that promises them the most free money; the loss of the vote may even provide an incentive that is not purely money-based to make an effort to get work (and if they view their vote as so unimportant that it is not an incentive, do we want them voting anyway?).

The government is able to exist only because it extorts money from those who earn it: it is thus only fair that only they should be allowed to vote on how their money is spent.

This measure might also lead people to regard the vote as something that must be earned: like everything that is given freely, people do not value their vote. Because it is regarded as simply something that is your right, innit, people do not feel that they should actually go and find out what they are voting for.

Like everything that is simply given away, the right to vote is not viewed as something important: all too many people do not see that they have a duty—both to themselves and to the society in which they live—to understand the implications of how they cast their vote.

I believe that reserving the vote only for those who contribute to society (and yes, there may be issues around unpaid carers, etc. I'd be willing to take suggestions on that one) would make people more politically aware and would curb the spendthrift nature of our governments.

UPDATE: OK, instead of nett contributor to the Treasury, let us say that anyone who pays tax can vote. This would allow the police, etc. to vote and would also provide an incentive for millionaires not to avoid all tax.

26 comments:

Sir Henry Morgan said...

Ex-servicemen?

O.A.Ps?

Oxbridge Prat said...

Doctors?
Police?
Local government employees?
Employees of private sector firms who mostly work on government contracts?

Sir Henry Morgan said...

Gets into a bit of a tangle doesn't it DK.

My personal choice is some sort of examination on Civics, Politics, Current Affairs (regularly updated) in order to qualify for the vote. And if you are both illiterate and innumerate, then you've got no chance of passing have you.

Oh - and in ENGLISH.

mister ed said...

with 80 per cent of our laws originating from Brussels, it matters not a jot what our vote is anyway.

well, not unless you are voting for an candidate who wants full withdrawal from the EU.

Sir Henry Morgan said...

Might care to have a History section in there too.

ChrisM said...

The only slight reservation I have is that governments do more than merely spend tax, they also make laws we all have to abide by. How about tax payers get 2 votes, and non tax payers get 1?

Sir Henry Morgan said...

You're entirely on the wrong track if money is the criterion you use for voter qualification. How long before the rules are changed so that taxpaying alone isn't enough? - you must also own a house ... then you must own it free of debt ... then you must also hold a set amount of land as well ... then a bigger set amount of land. Wont be long before we're back into 18th Century property qualification again.

I'm not against having to qualify for the vote ... but it seems a bit irrational to claim voters are thick therefore they must qualify by paying tax. That doesn't do anything about thick people does it.

Qualification by examination is the way to go.

Patrick Vessey said...

Great start. How about making the cut-off point at around, say, those 'contributing' the tax equivalent of a £250k+ income a year? That way we'll definitely get the government -- and the laws -- that will represent the interests of all in society, don't you think?

Govt. is a coercive beast. Whatever its colour, its existence is imposed upon us. To suggest that access to the means to change govt. should be restricted to a certain group seems a tad, well, unlibertarian to me.

Junk the powers of govt. and many of the problems -- as you've eloquently argued over the years -- go away.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Patrick,

"Great start. How about making the cut-off point at around, say, those 'contributing' the tax equivalent of a £250k+ income a year? That way we'll definitely get the government -- and the laws -- that will represent the interests of all in society, don't you think?"

Or how about not shading it like that? It's black and white really: you contribute financially -- you get to vote.

If people think that's unfair, they could always fight to have that system overturned: either way, they'll value the vote again...

"Govt. is a coercive beast. Whatever its colour, its existence is imposed upon us. To suggest that access to the means to change govt. should be restricted to a certain group seems a tad, well, unlibertarian to me."

As you have just argued, any government is unlibertarian. So, if we are to maintain our purity of view, surely we should be arguing for anarchism?

"Junk the powers of govt. and many of the problems -- as you've eloquently argued over the years -- go away."

Quite so. So anarchism it is then...?

DK

pagar said...

I don't think anyone is suggesting we junk all powers of Government. The trick is to limit the scope of Government by protecting individual freedoms in a Bill of Rights and written constitution.

In my view this should also include a cap on the overall level of tax Government can levy as a proportion of GDP.

Patrick Vessey said...

DK -- I'm pleased to see you coming around to the idea that anarchism is the way forwards ;-)

Seriously, though, arguments such as the one that your OP put forward are based upon a faulty premise: that those not earning (and therefore not paying tax) are not valuable members of society.

Disregarding totally any moral judgements, at a purely economic level this is fallacious. By your reasoning, anyone undertaking voluntary activity like charitable works isn't 'counted' as contributing, despite the fact that in doing so they are relieving the state (funded by our money) from 'having' to do these activities.

This is, as I know you're aware, completely contrary to the position that both of us spend a lot of time bashing folks over the head with.

No, the state shouldn't be doing anything like as much as it does. But even in a truly minarchist society to suggest that non-taxpayers would not be contributing in some shape or form seems equally bizarre.

If people _were_ truly idle gits, they wouldn't last long -- without a generous welfare state to support them, do you really think that Joe Public would put his hand into his pocket to keep them in the manner to which they'd like to be accustomed? Highly unlikely.

Or look at our proposals for scrapping income tax and replacing it with a sales tax. What about the folks who would choose to grow their veg, rear their own meat, collect their own rainwater etc. etc. They wouldn't necessarily ever have to dip into the 'real' economy, and consequently would be excluded. More to the point, without an income tax -- which we are committed to abolishing -- how would a scheme based upon voting rights being associated with taxation income be administered; there would be no tax records...?

FreedomIsYellow said...

Because a Bill of Rights and written constitution (of which the UK has both) has worked out so well in the past...

Democratic government is by nature unstable - it will always tend towards more theft from the productive being subsequently redistributed to the unproductive.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Patrick,

I find myself on the anarchist side of the fence more and more: however, as you know, I am interested in the best outcome and I just don't think that people are ready for that yet.

Your other points are spot on, of course. My suggestion was made as a relatively small change within the current framework that we are dealing with (a framework that Hannan would, I suspect, instinctively support in its theory).

DK

Katabasis said...

Interesting to see both yourself (DK) and Patrick express anarchist sentiments.

What do you make of the ostracism exercised by many of the "mainstream" anarchists - particularly in the UK - of those who reject collectivist anarchism (which is, supposedly the norm - or at least that is what the organisers of the Anarchist Bookfair would have you believe)?

I've noted with interest that these people don't just reject market anarchists, they also reject mutualists and agorists too. And they completely rule out working with miniarchists also (which, as far as I'm concerned is the only viable route to anarchism of any description).

Thoughts?

pagar said...

Because a Bill of Rights and written constitution (of which the UK has both) has worked out so well in the past...

To my knowledge the UK has never had a written constitution. If you say it exists please tell me where.

It seems to me that the US constitution has had some effect in protecting their citizens from the worst excesses of unfettered government.

FreedomIsYellow said...

The UK doesn't have a formal single-document constitution like the USA, however it does exist in written form: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_United_Kingdom

The USA has still gone from what could be considered Classically Liberal to a Big Government socialist state, albeit extremely gradually. Just like the UK.

Bishop Brennan said...

Isn't the Treaty of Rome the UK's written constitution?! :(

I have long toyed with similar ideas around voting to those expressed by DK, but have not been able to think of a way to overcome the problems raised by Patrick.

An academic test won't work either - there are plenty of idiots with loads of academic qualifications, e.g. most (?) academics are ignorant lefties (Miliband pater comes to mind)! :)

So the answer has to be (in order of preference): a minimal state (hence I am a libertarian! :), a written constitution which blocks the state from taking more than, say, 20% of GDP in taxes, or me moving somewhere more libertarian-minded, i.e. nowhere in western Europe!

Anonymous said...

How is your status as a tax payer assessed for voting?

If you lose your job the day before an election is called are you not allowed to vote?

If you get a paper round five days before an election starts are you allowed to vote?

Or will there be some insanely complicated assessment system to work out if people have being paying tax for long enough since the last election to qualify to vote?

Baring in mind that elections can be five months or five years apart that would be a bit tricky.

pagar said...

We need a written constitution that protects us from an elected government- that ring fences the power of the government to enact legislation that erodes individual freedom and limits their power to tax us.

Simple really. I'm happy to write it.

FreedomIsYellow said...

It is simple enough to write words on a piece of paper. Getting a monopoly provider of defense and arbitration services in an area (i.e a State) to abide by it for a decent period of time is the tricky part.

I think one approach is to not only limit the size of the state in legislative terms, but also in physical terms. Let's let England be a separate country, along with Wales, Ulster, Scotland, perhaps Cornwall? Each with a very limiting constitution. Or even break it down further to the County level. Splitting up the state in this way at least allows for some competition. Don't like the new eco tax in Surrey? Pop over the border to tax haven Hampshire. :)

pagar said...

FIY
Yes you're right. Or devolution within a state.

Switzerland for example.

FreedomIsYellow said...

The Swiss must be doing something right -they've stayed out of the EU!

Roger Thornhill said...

Patrick/DK,

I have toyed with the idea for a number of years* that anyone who earns their living from the State, which DOES include Police, Army, Civil Servants, those on STATE but not private pensions** etc. should not be voting. Why? Because they have a vested interest in expanding the state and voting for more spending on their income. Vote buying at a tangent. Example: Winter Fuel Allowance. Blatant vote buying.

Now, people say "what about all the nurses, hospital cleaners and teachers"? Well, under the LPUK these people will not be working for the state anymore, but for independent entities.


* one of the original Roger's Manifesto items
** people should NOT trust the state to provide pensions - the pension liabilities should be realised and then handed over to individuals or co-ops who want to look after the interests of groups.

Not perfect, but right now we have vote buying and that is far less perfect.

xelent said...

Its anarchy for me baby.. juxtaposed by a bevy of free market DRO's... and forget voting with with a cross... But vote with your cash...

Liam said...

DK,
It pleases me to hear you are leaning towards anarchy.
I myself do believe in a society without goverment, however I agree with you that people aren't ready yet.
The populace has been fed from the nose bag for so long that such independence to quickly would be disasterous.
Thats why I support your libertarian endevours.
Small government is a step in the right direction.
Baby steps. Thats what's needed.

S.Weasel.

Sneaky Weasel said...

*Just noticed theres another blogger going under the name S.Weasel-just to clear up any confusion- I'm not him.