The Right to Vote

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juststrange
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby juststrange » Thu Nov 20, 2008 5:23 pm UTC

Well seeing as how I only tend to sit down and have a beer with folks that are agreeable to me, on the issues and the way things ought to be run, I see no problem with voting for the person I would most want to have a beer with. Perhaps I want to have beer with them because I respect them, the way the hold themselves, and thats what I want representing my country/state/parking lot.

Everyone should be equal, worth just as much as the guy in front and behind them in line, the second they step into that booth.

I have a sneaking suspicion that you haven't actually read past the 3rd post of this thread -- the last time having a beer with a candidate was brought up. Please do so at this time.

-Az


edit: My post was simply meant to reflect the fact that someones motivation to vote for A or B may not be the same as the projected or percieved motivation. Stretching a bit farther, that what people base value on varies. One persons major issue or consideration may not even be a blip on someone elses radar. The issues that matter are up to individuals to decide for themselves (take this within reason).
Last edited by juststrange on Mon Dec 01, 2008 8:19 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Thanatos
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Thanatos » Sat Nov 22, 2008 10:58 am UTC

My above post is not particularly was not on topic so I digress on to what really matters it was deleted. Also, double posting is bad and you should feel bad.

-Az


Who has the Right to vote?


juststrange wrote:Everyone should be equal, worth just as much as the guy in front and behind them in line, the second they step into that booth.


Yet everyone is not equal. You are living in a dream world it you think so. Intelligence? Morality? Equivalent in everyone? No. A society can only be efficiently managed if its based in what is, not what one wants. Hell, even a basis on appearance only can often be enough, or indeed preferable. But humans are neither the same in appearance or actuality. Therefore to form, or maintain, viz. voting, a government on that false premise can only lead to societal decay. There appear, then, only two options to efficiently run a democratic government, both involve limiting the power of the individual in government matters. One is to limit the effect of ones vote, as we have in moderation in the United States by way of a representative democracy. This is not enough though. We see that in addition to decreasing individual voting power we must also differentiate between those who can make an informed and intelligent decision and have the best interest of the greatest number of people at heart, and the greedy hypocrite using his vote for his own self interest; damn the rest! What follows is that voting must be selective. Ergo we don't let the young, they do not understand government, or felons, they are a negative benefit to society, vote. This is still not enough. Be it from any number of reasons, lack of political insight, intelligence, education, there are still may uninformed voters.

Voting must be selectively limited further than what is seen in the United States. I have no theories on how to do this for the betterment of humanity. I do know there are many individuals who should not have any say in running the lives of others. But until there is any change I will still continue to vote for what I think will best help humanity; damn the individual!
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby b.i.o » Sun Nov 23, 2008 7:23 pm UTC

Thanatos wrote:This is still not enough. Be it from any number of reasons, lack of political insight, intelligence, education, there are still may uninformed voters.


So you figure out why they're still uninformed and make them informed, you don't try to limit voting rights based on arbitrary and most likely inaccurate measures.


You say that juststrange is "living in a dream world" because of a belief that everybody should be equal. You are the one living in a dream world. What evidence do you have to say that social elites would be the best governors? A government by the elites and thus for the elites could never effectively govern for the vast majority of people. What incentive would such a government have for better universal education? For better general living conditions? Why would a hereditary caste of rulers want to elevate anyone else to their level? Empathy is certainly not something magnified by being born into power. Greed is. The tired, the poor, the huddling masses--they are part of humanity too.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Luthen » Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:21 am UTC

First off, my personal views. If were possible to reliably bias voters' voting power by a combination of interest, informed-ness, and intelligience, without disenfranchising everyone, I would probably support it. However, I don't think this would ever be possible, so believe in everyone's right to vote and the enforcing of polling attendance.

Neon Rain wrote:The problem of course is deciding what would give you the right to vote. To be fair, everyone should have the opportunity to gain suffrage especially the poor. I think between 2 years military service, a certain amount of taxes paid, and time in a public/socially beneficial job (teachers, police, firefighters, infrastructure development, etc.) as qualifications everyone should be accounted for. This doesn't discriminate against anyone; even the poorest people can do public works, and the rich are given some acknowledgment for the fact that they are paying for all the welfare that goes to the poor.

Problem with any discriminatory voting is that it will always lead to politicians ignoring those without a vote, not even maliciously.

Neon Rain wrote: As for the two-party system, I don't think anyone intended it to form. Its just a consequence of our electoral system. If either of the two parties split, or a new party grew to prominence, the party whose base was least divided would always win. I think it shows that people would rather vote for someone who they partially agree and will hopefully win than someone who they completely agree with, but will divide the base and cause the party they most disagree with to win. I don't think we can leave a two-party system without changing the electoral system itself.

I would take it further as a consequence of basic human interaction. If there is a crowd of individuals competing with each other, sooner or later some will ally and succeed for a while until others join them or form an opposition. Thus parties will form. Whether there is a two-party break-up, two parties and smaller parties or a mass of coalitions would depend both on the electoral system and culture. I wouldn't say the two-party system is horrible, I don't think I could live in a country with a hundred parties constantly fighting for power.

Zauderer wrote:In my opinion, the best way to break the two-party system would be to simply abolish the election of the president by the people. Instead, everybody should just cast his vote for a political party, and the votes are tallied nationwide and every party gets a number of seats in the House of Representatives proportional to the number of votes. (However, there should be a limit - such as five seats - under which no seat at all should be awarded to that party to avoid fragmentation.) The Senate should be abolished completely (good-bye filibuster), and the president (who then nominates a cabinet) would be elected by the House of Representatives.

Firstly, you got two points there, direct election of the head of state and existence of electorates. Plus, I don't think either would break the two-party system.
Indirect election of the head of the government (not head of state) happens in Australia and Britain, which are both more or less (less than the US) two-party states. Most people will still vote for the leaders of the party rather than their local representative, so the results aren't that different.
I would protest abolishing electorates I think it is important for the members of parliament, senate, congress, whatever, to have an idea that the represent a certain localised section of the population, rather than 3% of their party or 67% of the white, 18-25 male demographic.

Malice wrote:
nazlfrag wrote:I'm from Australia, and here we have compulsory voting in that everyone of age is expected to vote. No questions. In practice, all they do is make sure you turn up to the polling station, actually casting a valid vote is entirely optional, and deliberately miscasting is known as a donkey vote, and an accepted part of our system. In theory there are nominal fines levied for not voting, but these are rarely if ever levied in practice. It works well for what it is designed for, in that we have turnouts usually above 98%.


Does that mean 98% actually vote, as opposed to a "donkey vote" or whatever? Or does that mean 98% show up at the polling place?

It means that 98% showed up and had their names ticked off the electoral lists at a polling station.

qinwamascot wrote:The problem people here would have with compulsory voting is that many would not want to take off even an hour from their daily lives to go vote, and many times the lines are 5+ hours long.

That's a chicken and egg argument though. If voting was compulsory, there would have to be enough polling stations to service the whole population in one day, so the lines would be short. For example, in all the Australian elections I've been too (I wasn't old enough to vote then), we'd be done in about twenty minutes. I think a bigger problem in America is (warning: entering heasay and TV-derived impressions) the relative powerless of the federal voting office and unsystematic way polling stations are selected. A federal voting office would have more resources and be able to set up as many polling stations as needed. Most Australian polling stations are in schools and other public buildings, so there are plenty of polling stations, most within reach (often walking distance) of people's homes.

swamprat wrote:Also from Australia. Generally a 98% turn out with invalid ballots counting for 5.18% in the 2004 elections. Invalid ballots include not filling out the numbers sequentially, using crosses/ticks instead of numbers, not a proper pre-signed ballot or the marking of the ballot in other ways (known as marks or scribbles). Marks/scribbles made up 14.27% of invalid ballots in 2004. The increase in the number of invalid ballots from the 2001 to the 2004 elections is accounted for completely by the increase in "marks/scribbles' form of invalid ballot.

however, this does not take into account the usual definition of donkey voting, ie going 1, 2 , 3, 4 down the boxes, as this is a valid vote, even though it may in most cases represent a throwaway vote (ie the voter not careing about the election). Generally appearing on the top box gives a 1-2% boost to the number of first preference votes recieved, although this effect is generally minimised during the distribution of prefernences.

On the invalid vote front, under the American first past the post system, John Howard (our last prime minister) would have won his seat (don't have time to check which party would of won, probably Labor though), by 143 votes. And the number of invalid votes (5764) was 40 times the margin in first preferences between the main candidates and about 1000 more than the third greatest party. All from Australian Electoral Commision.

(Woah, big post)
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby ian » Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:59 am UTC

Neon Rain wrote: I don't mean to say that poor people shouldn't vote; a lot of teachers are poor, yet they provide a valuable service to the country; but if you are paying no taxes and working in some industry kept alive by federal subsidies attained by lobbyists, you should really not have the right to vote.

That's just ridiculous, you're treating voting as though it only changes who gets taxed on what and effects the economy. You're saying people don't contribute financially so they shouldn't get a vote on what laws they are subject to?

edit: Also I'd just like to add to a previous comment that I find it disgusting that I can't seperately vote for my local MP and for who shall run the government.
Last edited by ian on Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:40 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Thanatos » Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:36 am UTC

Problem 1: Politicians

b.i.o wrote:So you figure out why they're still uninformed and make them informed, you don't try to limit voting rights based on arbitrary and most likely inaccurate measures.


qinwamascot wrote:Personally, I'm fine with people who aren't informed to vote. All it means is that the candidate who they are voting against didn't do a good enough job campaigning and proving his/her points.


Make them informed eh? You know, there is a way to do that, and it ties in to why the above quote is so utterly ridiculous. The best way to sway a large mass of people is to play towards their emotions. Facts and points have a minuscule effect compared with that qualitative tool. Here is the result; a candidate gains appointment not at all by public agreement with his ideals, but by how he manipulates our emotions. This is where much of the problem lies. We cant even start on a way to inform the public until they have the ability to be informed and the politicians will not lightly give up their most powerful tool.

Problem 2: We the People

b.i.o wrote:You say that juststrange is "living in a dream world" because of a belief that everybody should be equal.


Yes, if we were all equal I strongly believe that life would be quite dull. The possibilities of human evolution are not part of the argument so I will repeat; humans are currently not equal and I would not wish that equality upon any society. What I think you mean, correct me if I'm wrong, is that despite the obvious inequality in humanity we should nevertheless be treated as equals. I strongly agree with this and will always fight for it. This mutuality agreed upon courtesy of treating others the same as oneself is always beneficial for keep a smooth running society. However, this does and should not automatically grant everyone the same privileges. Make no mistake that suffrage is a privilege and giving power to those who don't have the majority at heart will lead to downfall.

b.i.o wrote:What evidence do you have to say that social elites would be the best governors?


Kindly point out sir where I have ever said or implied that a governing body should only be assumed by the social elite or hereditary principality? If you can't accomplish this simple task I ask that you no longer put words in too my mouth.
Many a successful leader has risen to power from the literal dregs of society to accomplish much. A smart leader always puts the majority first and nowhere has the majority consisted of the nobility or elite. Historically a leader looking after the nobility first and foremost will not succeed. Keeping us peasants happy is imperative.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Philwelch » Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:17 pm UTC

ian wrote:
Neon Rain wrote: I don't mean to say that poor people shouldn't vote; a lot of teachers are poor, yet they provide a valuable service to the country; but if you are paying no taxes and working in some industry kept alive by federal subsidies attained by lobbyists, you should really not have the right to vote.

That's just ridiculous, you're treating voting as though it only changes who gets taxed on what and effects the economy. You're saying people don't contribute financially so they shouldn't get a vote on what laws they are subject to?


I think there are serious issues with allowing those who pay no tax to vote to confiscate money from those who do. I also think there's good reason to say that some people who pay no tax contribute nothing towards the state, and thus should hold no power over it. It may be a flawed argument, but there are serious, legitimate concerns here. It is far from "ridiculous".
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby ian » Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:36 pm UTC

So everyone who is retired or a full time student shouldn't be allowed to vote? Or is it just those of working age on benefits? What if they can't find a job? What about when a recession hits and millions lose their jobs?

And if you're argument is that if you aren't contributing to the goverment then you can't ever a say in who that government is or how it's run, then I'd say that you no longer have to abide by their decisions. The haves decide the rules and the have-nots just have to go by them? Democracy shouldn't be about representation thru taxation in my view, it should be about choosing your rulers, which is up to everyone.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Philwelch » Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:59 pm UTC

ian wrote:So everyone who is retired or a full time student shouldn't be allowed to vote? Or is it just those of working age on benefits? What if they can't find a job? What about when a recession hits and millions lose their jobs?

And if you're argument is that if you aren't contributing to the goverment then you can't ever a say in who that government is or how it's run, then I'd say that you no longer have to abide by their decisions. The haves decide the rules and the have-nots just have to go by them? Democracy shouldn't be about representation thru taxation in my view, it should be about choosing your rulers, which is up to everyone.


It's not a matter of the haves and the have-nots, it's a matter of who's pulling their own weight making productive contributions to the country and who is simply living off of other people. Plenty of full time students work and plenty of retirees live off of their own savings or pension--money they've earned and often paid tax on.

Democracy isn't about people governing themselves—that's anarchy. Democracy is about people governing each other. And democracy has to have limits. If we as a society are generous enough to allow some people to live off of the production of others for a limited amount of time, I'm for it. But we need to recognize that these people don't pay their own way in life, nor do they contribute to the government we all share. There's no free lunch, only a productive class that has to pick up the bill for those who can't pay their own way.

When people drop out of the productive class, they are living on the generosity and productivity of others. It is not their place to govern those who provide for them.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby ian » Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:15 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:It's not a matter of the haves and the have-nots, it's a matter of who's pulling their own weight making productive contributions to the country and who is simply living off of other people. Plenty of full time students work and plenty of retirees live off of their own savings or pension--money they've earned and often paid tax on.

Democracy isn't about people governing themselves—that's anarchy. Democracy is about people governing each other. And democracy has to have limits. If we as a society are generous enough to allow some people to live off of the production of others for a limited amount of time, I'm for it. But we need to recognize that these people don't pay their own way in life, nor do they contribute to the government we all share. There's no free lunch, only a productive class that has to pick up the bill for those who can't pay their own way.

When people drop out of the productive class, they are living on the generosity and productivity of others. It is not their place to govern those who provide for them.

What about those students who don't work part-time or those who are living off state pensions that are greater than their contribution? (Btw the vast majority of part-time working students pay no tax, in fact you could argue they are taking away tax money as if someone else had their job they would be)

What about those that contribute socially rather than financially?

Also I never said democracy was about people governing themselves. Anyway, if people aren't willing to contribute to the government, and thus don't get a vote, what right does the government have to tell them what to do? If you aren't going to give someone a voice then I don't see how you can expect them to listen to yours.


I agree democracy has it's limits, but taking people's right to vote is going to far. Voting is the bond that legitimises the actions of the government.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby nazlfrag » Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:50 pm UTC

It seems you're all focussed on fiscal issues where the government has a much broader impact on our lives. Take a step back and think about how we are all treated, rich or poor, stereotype or counterstereotype....

I posted earlier a belief that compulsory voting is the best, in that it encourages interest in the process. It's no democracy, but it achieves good representation.

Thanks for the responses regarding felons voting statuses (it's in the dictionary GNs), I am still wondering though if there are any other groups not permitted to vote such as the mentally ill, the homeless or other fringe groups?

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby ian » Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:54 pm UTC

nazlfrag wrote:It seems you're all focussed on fiscal issues where the government has a much broader impact on our lives. Take a step back and think about how we are all treated, rich or poor, stereotype or counterstereotype....

That was my original point.

I posted earlier a belief that compulsory voting is the best, in that it encourages interest in the process. It's no democracy, but it achieves good representation.

Thanks for the responses regarding felons voting statuses (it's in the dictionary GNs), I am still wondering though if there are any other groups not permitted to vote such as the mentally ill, the homeless or other fringe groups?


The homeless can vote here, the mentally ill - well I think it depends on their illness.

And I don't think compulsory boting is the best, have you any links to anything showing it increases interest in the process? (that is the average voter is more informed). If people don't want to vote then that is fine as far as I am concerned.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Philwelch » Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:07 pm UTC

ian wrote:What about those students who don't work part-time or those who are living off state pensions that are greater than their contribution? (Btw the vast majority of part-time working students pay no tax, in fact you could argue they are taking away tax money as if someone else had their job they would be)


They live off of the productive class and shouldn't govern it. I already said that.

ian wrote:What about those that contribute socially rather than financially?


If they do, indeed, contribute something it counts, in principle.

ian wrote:Anyway, if people aren't willing to contribute to the government, and thus don't get a vote, what right does the government have to tell them what to do?


You have it backwards. If the productive class creates and sustains a government, and someone goes to that government asking for a handout, the government has every right to attach conditions. If you don't agree with the law, don't use the law to collect welfare. There's not much stopping you from living as an outlaw—there is enough room for you off the grid and under the radar. But you lose the benefits of government when you do that.

And the government has every right to tell whoever they want things like, "don't break into your neighbor's house".
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby DougP » Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:08 pm UTC

What if I understand the the platforms of every party on the ballot but choose to vote based on which party name I hit with a dart while blindfolded.

I understand why it sounds good to require people vote when they are actually educated on the matter, but its impossible to really determine why someone voted for who they did (i mean you could ask them, but thats not the point).

Bottom line: Cut out all the "unfit" voters, and the same problems would still exist anyway.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby b.i.o » Tue Nov 25, 2008 4:22 am UTC

Thanatos wrote:Make them informed eh? You know, there is a way to do that, and it ties in to why the above quote is so utterly ridiculous. The best way to sway a large mass of people is to play towards their emotions. Facts and points have a minuscule effect compared with that qualitative tool. Here is the result; a candidate gains appointment not at all by public agreement with his ideals, but by how he manipulates our emotions. This is where much of the problem lies. We cant even start on a way to inform the public until they have the ability to be informed and the politicians will not lightly give up their most powerful tool.


I apologize--perhaps I didn't phrase this well enough:
Our country does an absolutely horrendous job of educating its youth about political issues. As a result, many people who *are* interested in the outcome of an election or other political event aren't able to get the information by themselves. This is not necessarily their failing, and the way to fix the problem is not to deny people voting rights, it's to provide resources that help people educate themselves. (And not, as you might have taken from my previous post, to just tell them things. That's not education, that's indoctrination.)

There are always going to be people who don't care anyway, of course. But those also tend to be the people who don't vote regardless.


As to equality, in the context of phrases like "all men are created equal" equality, at least in my mind, means equality of rights, and obviously not that everyone is a genetic clone of everyone else. (Side note: I think a world of genetic equals might actually be quite interesting, but that's a subject for another thread.)

I disagree to your statement that suffrage is a privilege. Suffrage is a right. The instances in which that right may be stripped from you have been mentioned earlier in this thread, but it remains a right. While your end goal may not be the rule of social elites, and while you certainly didn't say verbatim that it was, I don't believe the arbitrary meritocracy you're describing could lead anywhere else. You say that 'giving power to those who don't have the majority at heart will lead to downfall'. Who is going to decide what that means, and who is going to decide whether or not to give someone the privilege of voting? In any realistic situation that's going to be the people already in power. And while it might be nice to imagine that the people with the best motives would gain (and thus hold) power, history offers few or no examples of such success.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby BrainMagMo » Sun Nov 30, 2008 1:42 am UTC

Gunfingers wrote:The greatest trick the two-party system ever pulled was convincing the world it exists. The US would be a much better place if we could collectively pull our heads out of our asses and realize that we have more options than just the two big paradigms.

First-past-the-post systems are mathematically unable to give anything but two party systems.

This assertion is both very topical, rather important and not self-evident. Further explanation, including some kind of relevant link/citation would have allowed you to be a stellar contributor to the thread.

Instead ... purple pen.

Serious Business, people.

-Az

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Julle » Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:10 am UTC

BrainMagMo wrote:
Gunfingers wrote:The greatest trick the two-party system ever pulled was convincing the world it exists. The US would be a much better place if we could collectively pull our heads out of our asses and realize that we have more options than just the two big paradigms.

First-past-the-post systems are mathematically unable to give anything but two party systems.

This assertion is both very topical, rather important and not self-evident. Further explanation, including some kind of relevant link/citation would have allowed you to be a stellar contributor to the thread.

Instead ... purple pen.

Serious Business, people.

-Az


The proof is called the Duverger's Law.

The Source is:
William H. Riker, "The Two-party System and Duverger's Law: An Essay on the History of Political Science" American Political Science Review, 76 (December, 1982), pp. 753-766.

But the text is from Wikipedia

A two-party system often develops from the single-member district plurality voting system (SMDP), in which legislative seats are awarded to the candidate with a plurality of the total votes within his or her constituency, rather than apportioning seats to each party based on the total votes gained in the entire set of constituencies. This trend develops out of the inherent qualities of the SMDP system that discourage the development of third parties and reward the two major parties.

The most obvious inhibiting feature unique to the SMDP voting system is purely statistical. A small third party cannot gain legislative power if it is based in a populous area. Similarly, a statistically significant third party can be too geographically scattered to muster enough votes to win seats, although technically its numbers would be sufficient to overtake a major party in an urban zone. Gerrymandering is sometimes used to counteract such geographic difficulties in local politics, but is impractical and controversial on a large scale. These numerical disadvantages can create an artificial limit on the level at which a third party can engage in the political process.

The second unique problem is both statistical and tactical. Duverger suggested an election in which 100,000 moderate voters and 80,000 radical voters are voting for a single official. If two moderate candidates and one radical candidate were to run, the radical candidate would win unless one of the moderate candidates gathered fewer than 20,000 votes. Observing this, moderate voters would be more likely to vote for the candidate most likely to gain more votes, with the goal of defeating the radical candidate. Either the two parties must merge, or one moderate party must fail, as the voters gravitate to the two strong parties, a trend Duverger called polarization.[1]

A third party can only enter the arena if it can exploit the mistakes of a pre-existing major party, ultimately at that party's expense. For example, the political chaos in the United States immediately preceding the Civil War allowed the Republican Party to replace the Whig Party as the progressive half of the American political landscape. Loosely united on a platform of country-wide economic reform and federally funded industrialization, the decentralized Whig leadership failed to take a decisive stance on the slavery issue, effectively splitting the party along the Mason-Dixon Line. Southern rural planters, initially lured by the prospect of federal infrastructure and schools, quickly aligned themselves with the pro-slavery Democrats, while urban laborers and professionals in the northern states, threatened by the sudden shift in political and economic power and losing faith in the failing Whig candidates, flocked to the increasingly vocal anti-slavery Republican Party.

In countries that use proportional representation (PR), especially where the whole country forms a single constituency (like Israel), the electoral rules discourage a two-party system; the number of votes received for a party determines the number of seats won, and new parties can thus develop an immediate electoral niche. Duverger identified that the use of PR would make a two-party system less likely. However, other systems do not guarantee new parties access to the system: Malta provides an example of a stable two-party system using the single transferable vote.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby AFedchuck » Wed Dec 03, 2008 9:08 pm UTC

The argument about tax is idiotic and frankly a bit pathetic. You're talking as people are sponging off the state by getting monetary benefits, and completely ignore the guarantees that the state provides to property which overwhelmingly benefit the rich.
Also, nobody who buys anything (in all the Western countries I am aware of, correct me please) is paying no tax. VAT, IVA etc. mean anything? And how are you going to measure contribution to society anyway? Give me a metric which isn't as stupid as the tax idea (which you clearly haven't thought through as evinced by sales taxes) and I'm fairly confident there will be some glaring problems.

All those advocating tests for voting, how do you draw the line below which you can't vote? And how do you deal with the fact that by being more able to access education the rich are going to be more able to vote?
How resistant are these plans against collusion?
How do you think the sizeable group of people who can't vote (if your specific plan doesn't include sizeable exclusions, this doesn't apply to you directly, but if you aren't excluding many people you aren't going to swing votes much) are going to react if the state imposes something they do not approve of on them? With no recourse to the ballot box what will they do? Now, you could make constitutional provisions, but if they are not irrevocable you could gradually disenfranchise most of the populace with successive bar raising. Admittedly, this is a slippery slope, but I do think it is worthy of some consideration.

If you like the "Starship Troopers" military service idea, I have a few objections too: Why do we need more soliders? Do we want to militarise the world more? And why should the military be the contribution we make so society. If your idea is to have some kind of community service before you can vote, then I could see stronger arguments. However, there is a minor worry in that the majority who have all gone through this service have no clear incentive not to increase the onerousness of this compulsory labour. There are also other numerous other issues with this kind of service, but I imagine you'd want a new thread for that.

It seems to me that most people who argue for a voting restriction based on capability seem to be operating under the delusion that when people do something that is not pleasing to you personally, that the they must be so retarded that they are incapable of making the correct choice.

If I sound annoyed, it's because I am. The right to vote is the right to have some control over your life, and so curbing it is a dangerous step indeed. I'm not saying that the present systems are perfect, far from it, just that if you are going to 'solve' the problems by banning people from being able to choose who rules them, you've not grapsed what the problems with the systems are.

PS Brainmagmo, next time you say something is mathematically proven to be always true, you might want to read the first sentence of the source you quote.
"A two-party system often develops from the single-member district plurality voting system". Often =/= always. I'm not in favour of this system, just be accurate when you making such strong statments.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Paranoid__Android » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:47 am UTC

A bit of background first.

I've got dual citizenship British/American, my mum was brought up in the US but then moved to the UK.
I believe could have voted in the election but it was all a bit complicated and I couldnt be bothered to go through with it. I have only ever been to the US twice and my time there probably ammounts to about 4-5 weeks.

My point is this, should people (like me) be allowed to vote when the result will probably not affect them in the slightest, and who potentially have ill feelings towards the US.

Im not sure if this is off topic or not so feel free to use the purple pen on me.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby boatner » Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:03 am UTC

I'll second the notion that Nobody should get to vote, at least not in most of the elections that we seem to be talking about here. Democracy is bad. Not sort of bad, not the worst form of government except all the others, it is simply, and totally, bad.

If we want to focus on the USA, we don't really (supposedly) have any sort of democracy. We have democratically elected government officials who are (supposedly) bound by the rule of law, as outlined in the Constitution. The current spate of problems hereabouts are due almost entirely to the encroachment of democracy into the process. A democratically elected government will inevitably slip its bonds, and ours has clearly done so.

Earlier someone asked what should we replace our current system with. The answer is a system very much like what we started with. We simply need to shrink the scope of our elections (and instead of abolishing the Senate, as has been proposed, return it to it's pre-17th amendment form, and such...). The Framers liked the idea of a representative government, but they were considering populations that were tiny by comparison to today. They also trusted the population (that they cleverly called the militia) to hold government officials accountable when they tried to violate the rule of law. They understood that in a democracy, the many would lord it over the few regardless any notion of individual liberty.

As to the idea of a two-party system, well, I don't really believe we *have* two parties...we have one bloated and evilly democratic party with several branches, two of which tend to dominate. It always cracks me up, in a nauseating way, to hear a "republican" candidate espousing the virtues of democracy....

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Philwelch » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:04 am UTC

AFedchuck wrote:The argument about tax is idiotic and frankly a bit pathetic. You're talking as people are sponging off the state by getting monetary benefits, and completely ignore the guarantees that the state provides to property which overwhelmingly benefit the rich.


Enforcing property rights (which let me remind you, mostly begin and end with some type of "don't steal" laws) are not just a government handout to people who have more stuff for others to steal. They're a fundamental part of how we keep society functioning.

AFedchuck wrote:Also, nobody who buys anything (in all the Western countries I am aware of, correct me please) is paying no tax. VAT, IVA etc. mean anything?


1. Many US states have no sales tax.
2. If you collect public assistance and use that money to buy things, even if you pay sales tax you're a net negative contributor to the public fund. Collecting $100 from the government and spending that $100 on groceries, some of which are subject to sales tax, does not suddenly turn you into a productive citizen contributing your own earnings to the public fund.

AFedchuck wrote:How do you think the sizeable group of people who can't vote (if your specific plan doesn't include sizeable exclusions, this doesn't apply to you directly, but if you aren't excluding many people you aren't going to swing votes much) are going to react if the state imposes something they do not approve of on them? With no recourse to the ballot box what will they do?


If they don't like it they can simply turn down their monthly welfare checks.

AFedchuck wrote:If I sound annoyed, it's because I am. The right to vote is the right to have some control over your life, and so curbing it is a dangerous step indeed.


The right to vote is also the right to have some control over everyone else's life.

And quite frankly, your right to control your own life should go hand in hand with your responsibility for pulling your own weight. If you have to ask the rest of us to provide for you, then you'd better be prepared to accept our conditions.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby TheAmazingRando » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:12 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:If they don't like it they can simply turn down their monthly welfare checks.
If people could afford not to collect welfare each month, it wouldn't be necessary. The option to vote, at the expense of food and shelter, isn't really an option at all.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby sh3l1 » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:57 am UTC

Sadly, it wouldn't really be a democracy if everyone couldn't vote. That said, voter education as opposed to voter discrimination should be imposed.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby scruff » Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:16 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:The right to vote is also the right to have some control over everyone else's life.


This is primarily what sets me against the right to vote. I'd say the best system would be consensus, and I'm not at all happy about anything that comes after that. For example, local direct democracy would likely be better than national representative democracy (how easy is it to vote away your neighbor's right to marry the person they love if you have to look them in the eye every day?), but I'm not convinced it's necessary beyond crisis situations, such as perhaps war.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Philwelch » Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:41 am UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:
Philwelch wrote:If they don't like it they can simply turn down their monthly welfare checks.
If people could afford not to collect welfare each month, it wouldn't be necessary. The option to vote, at the expense of food and shelter, isn't really an option at all.


If you're willing to live off the mercy and generosity of the system, you've consented to the system. But you're not contributing to it, and you shouldn't have a say over those whose generosity you've living off of.

There's no free lunch. Sure, we'll set up a soup kitchen. But when you show up, you don't get to start demanding that the cook skips lunch and gives you his sandwich and birthday cupcake with your soup.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby TheAmazingRando » Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:29 am UTC

I'm just saying, people usually aren't welfare out of choice, they're on it out of necessity. The choice to forego a month's welfare isn't one that a person who needs it can actually make. Saying that if they don't like their non-voting status they can "simply" stop collecting welfare is a bit like saying that if I don't like being under US law I can "simply" move to another country, regardless of the fact that I don't actually have the financial ability to do so.

In your system, if people have no choice but to live on welfare, they have no choice but to be unable to vote. If you're fine with this, then that's fine for your argument, but don't pretend that you're giving them a choice when you aren't.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Ari » Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:28 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
Zauderer wrote:In my opinion, the best way to break the two-party system would be to simply abolish the election of the president by the people. Instead, everybody should just cast his vote for a political party, and the votes are tallied nationwide and every party gets a number of seats in the House of Representatives proportional to the number of votes. (However, there should be a limit - such as five seats - under which no seat at all should be awarded to that party to avoid fragmentation.) The Senate should be abolished completely (good-bye filibuster), and the president (who then nominates a cabinet) would be elected by the House of Representatives.


So you want a parliamentary system. It's a lot easier to say that way. While yes, it is very good at supporting multiple political parties, it has this nasty habit of not being possible within the current US government framework. As such, it is a fairly infeasible solution.


I should point out that a parliamentary system merely means that the House of Representatives is more powerful than the head of state. He's proposing a proportional parliament, which is even more specific. :) There are plenty of parliaments that still run electoral or mixed-member systems.

lazarus89 wrote:Starship Troopers: read it.

Service (not necessarily military) first, voting later.

I don't vote because I don't think I've earned franchise... yet.


It would be too easy to make it impractical for certain people or categories of people to serve. (For instance, DADT would probably mean that military options were off the table for most homosexuals or bisexuals. Find a way to fudge nonmilitary service and you could probably decimate the GLB vote under such a system)

ian wrote:
Neon Rain wrote: I don't mean to say that poor people shouldn't vote; a lot of teachers are poor, yet they provide a valuable service to the country; but if you are paying no taxes and working in some industry kept alive by federal subsidies attained by lobbyists, you should really not have the right to vote.

That's just ridiculous, you're treating voting as though it only changes who gets taxed on what and effects the economy. You're saying people don't contribute financially so they shouldn't get a vote on what laws they are subject to?

edit: Also I'd just like to add to a previous comment that I find it disgusting that I can't seperately vote for my local MP and for who shall run the government.


I should point out that public servants still contribute to the economy, and that many a depression has been mitigated through the government setting up a lot of jobs until the private sector can get back on its feet. Anyone working is part of the economy, regardless of who pays for it.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Jjarro » Sat Dec 06, 2008 8:44 am UTC

I believe that the Constitution of the United States of America has either created such a government as we have, or been powerless to prevent it. Obviously, this view assumes that the government we have ought to have been prevented, and there is room there for disagreement. Still, it is the premise on which I will proceed.
I love the direction of the bill of rights, the noble arguments of The Federalist and the argued aim of the Constitution of the United States of America. And yet, liberty decayed. Yes, there have been steps forward as well. There is a tendency among conservatives in this country, and among civil rights activists, as well, to enshrine the constitution in a way that is somewhat unsettling. It, and the entire system of governmental selection it created, including the various election and voting laws, was the creation of politicians, much like our modern politicians in many ways. Likewise, there is a tendency to lift up the banner of universal franchise as the clearest, most fundamental indicator of liberty and civilization. Phrases such as "no taxation without representation" also tend to come up. I think it's an unwarranted ideological devotion based largely on the noble struggle, at various times in history, to bring various disenfranchised groups into the body politic.

It is not perfect, or even that good. Like the rest of the constitution, it is at best, a lukewarm protector of liberty and at worst, a lukewarm servant of oppressors.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately on bits and pieces of constitutional law that would better preserve liberty, were the system to be built from the ground up. So the ideas I have about voting do tend to assume a completely different framework in general, but I'll focus on franchise, here. Luckily, franchise is pretty easy to slot into even systems less radically different than the one I imagine.

With that considerable prologue, allow me to suggest that in order for an individual to collect dime one of money from a government in a given year/electoral cycle, they must suspend their franchise until such time as they no longer wish to be on the public rolls. Additionally, they need not pay income taxes, and it may be practical to exempt them from a significant portion of other taxes.

There are essentially two categories of people who receive money from the government: public servants and welfare recipients. Note that when I say "welfare," I refer to the entire body of government programs meant to provide something to someone who could not attain it without government assistance.

The core of this idea is to prevent people from voting themselves anything at anyone's expense. It also, interestingly, means that politicians would be able to vote only with the power granted them by their constituents; a congressman would be permitted to vote in congress, where his job is to represent his district, but would be unable to vote in, say, the presidential election, or on various referenda put to the people. This is a very minor effect, really just an interesting curiosity.

More meaningfully, the legions of public servants, the teachers, police, soldiers even utility workers actually working for the state would all have their franchises suspended, and thus be unable to vote. This has two effects desirable to my mind. First, it encourages privatization of functions properly served by contracts, even if contracts controlled by the government.

(I realize that there is a potential gray area in cases of privatized management; say you have a utility where the infrastructure is owned by the government, but a contract is awarded to maintain and operate the infrastructure. Does it really make sense for workers in a city where the local government directly operates its own infrastructure to have suspended franchise while those doing the same job for a contractor in another city are allowed full voting rights? After all, the funds going to pay both groups of people are both coming out of the public fund. The simple solution is to extend the suspension to government contractors, but this eliminates any potential privitization impetus. Something to think on.)

Second, the employees of the government, the public servants, have a systemic reminder of their place in society: to serve as the operators of government, guided by the mandate of the citizens. It is, in this case, almost a badge of honor. Remember, they do not have to pay income tax, and I see few problems with suspending commercial sales taxes and the like for these people. In the age of the internet, it is entirely conceivable to issue a "public servant" card that can be instantly verified during the relevant transactions and even integrated into the ever-necessary ID for such personnel. We are paying them out of the public fund. It has never made any sense to me for government employees to pay income taxes.

The other group of people who receive government money, the welfare recipients, should under no circumstance be allowed power over the systems that provide them with the result of others' economic activity. It's really that simple. Welfare dependence should be viewed as undesirable, and suspension of franchise is just one more reason to avoid it. It is not permanent, and it serves a motivational purpose while building into the system a powerful safeguard against the population increasingly discovering that they can vote themselves what they might otherwise have to work for.

There are, naturally, many other significant changes I would make to the basic "representative republic with democratic institutions" model of the US. This is not even the most fundamental, but it is the most on-topic. I realize there are potential pitfalls that would have to be carefully navigated in any implementation of these ideas; I welcome any you might care to point out.

A few preemptive points:

The suspension is not permanent. Refusing pay allows any one of these people to vote, though I cannot conceive of very many being able to do this. Police do not do their difficult, dangerous job because they are millionaires that can afford to work for free.

The voices of those with suspended franchises are in no way silenced. The retain their freedom of speech, and all the other civil liberties a proper government protects. They may form unions, spend money on political campaigns, and do whatever else they feel the need to do... except for vote.

There is currently a complicated tangle of tax credits and other such benefits that I would have to classify as welfare. Many of them benefit the middle class. This system would only work of there remained a large majority of people who had active franchise; this tangle of benefits and over-taxation in the absence of such would have to be eliminated for this to be the case. This is not a problem in a system built from the ground up around this idea, but is a practical logistical problem if my idea is suggested as a change to any existing system I am aware of.

There has already been some discussion here of limiting franchise to those "productively engaged in society" or who have "served their country." I don't put much weight in those distinctions. Fundamentally, the government is legal, moral and sustainable because of the consent of the governed. It doesn't matter if you're productive, or have served. It's your country. This, then, is a compromise. If you serve your country directly, in the governmental sense, you set aside a small part of your sovereignty in order to serve, while at the same time potentially gaining increased practical power as the executor of the government's policies. It is a fine trade, and in the proper societal context, may even be a desirable phase of life for people to go through, perhaps leading to many students, for instance, working in low-level government jobs while going to college.
If you fall and cannot even support your own life and that of your family, you step back from your sovereignty and surrender your ability to influence directly how much help, and under what conditions, you will receive from your fellow citizens. As soon as you are capable of supporting your own life once more, you regain any lost ground. Again, it doesn't particularly make sense to charge taxes on people who require government aid to survive. Maybe a middle stage of welfare, tax-exemption without actual cash assistance, would be useful. Of course, any such individual would still have to suspend their franchise to accept any such benefit.

Incidentally, there is the matter of those in prison. Their franchises would be suspended, as they would be supported by the state. It would be reinstated upon their release, provided they did not suspend it themselves for some other reason, such as to become a senator.

The basic goal in this change is to keep government, and government dependence, as small as reasonably possible. It would, I believe, have side-effects in increasing the perceived value of the right to vote, and thus the felt gravity of any decisions made in the voting booth. This, in turn, would encourage self-education, the only type of voter education I tend to trust.

Requiring people to vote is an abomination. "Here, you sovereign, consenting citizen! Give consent to your government, or face a penalty!" Although, using the act of voting to indicate consent has a lot of problems with it too. Still, the idea of forcing someone to participate is not my idea of protecting liberty, which is my ultimate goal.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby icanus » Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:32 pm UTC

Jjarro wrote:There are essentially two categories of people who receive money from the government: public servants and welfare recipients. Note that when I say "welfare," I refer to the entire body of government programs meant to provide something to someone who could not attain it without government assistance.


That's the people who receive cash from the government. The entire population receives government money in the form of services. Virtually everything the government does is provide things people who could not attain on their own. Infrastructure, defence, legal system, imposing safety standards on food production, etc. Since everyone in a country receives some portion of these services, the only question is whether they contribute enough to cover their share.

What about people on the lower end of the income spectrum, who pay taxes, but not enough to cover their share of government spending? To take some very rough numbers (apologies for the lack of precision, but my intention is only to show that the threshold for "contributors" falls significantly above the $0 tax mark):

2008 Federal Budget: ~$2.9 Trillion
2008 US Population: ~305 million
2008 Federal spending per capita: ~$9500

Anyone paying less than this ~$9500 in federal taxes for 2008 is a net drain on the system, and has no more right to a vote (if you subscribe to the idea that only "contributors" should be enfranchised) than those receiving welfare.

You can adjust where this threshold falls by declaring only some sections of public spending as benefiting particular individuals - welfare for example*, but unless you can get the spending figure close to $0, there will always be a significant percentage of people who pay taxes but are nonetheless contributing less than they receive. Why should these people get a vote if welfare recipients shouldn't?

*I would contend that, while welfare obviously benefits those who receive it the most, it also has indirect benefits for everyone else, but that's a whole different discussion.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby fjafjan » Mon Dec 08, 2008 2:04 pm UTC

I'd just like to point out "knowing how the economy works" would mean not a single person in the world, atleast the known world, would be eligable to work. If you demand a knowledge of a certain theory of economics, which one would you chose? Only allow Libertarian Lassaiz Faire economists in? Only Keynsians?

or did you mean something else by phrase?
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Ixtellor » Mon Dec 08, 2008 2:29 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:I think there are serious issues with allowing those who pay no tax to vote to confiscate money from those who do. I also think there's good reason to say that some people who pay no tax contribute nothing towards the state, and thus should hold no power over it. It may be a flawed argument, but there are serious, legitimate concerns here. It is far from "ridiculous".


What % of people do you believe don't pay taxes?
Are you making the decision to not count sales taxes and payroll taxes?
What about government fees?
Mitt Romney and Rick Perry (texas) made the pseudo-false claim that they didn't raise taxes because they jacked up all the fees on a large number of transactions and government actions. So in many cases, the fees we pay for government services (some of them mandatory) are actually hidden taxes.

If you are going to dismiss all of the numerous taxes that virtually every American pays, what exactly is your ratio of % taxes paid inorder to receive the right to vote?


Ixtellor


----- FFS, Don't double post -----


Jjarro wrote:More meaningfully, the legions of public servants, the teachers, police, soldiers even utility workers actually working for the state would all have their franchises suspended, and thus be unable to vote.


Aside from my many many disagreements with your post...

You are advocating removing the right to vote of citizens from three government institutions that are paramount to the success of our nation.

1) Education. Find any nation on earth with voluntary or total privitezed education and tell me what you think of living in that nation.
2) Police. Identify any country with a private police force and identify what kind of 'liberty' they enjoy.
3) Military. Guess what happens every single time in history when armies and navies are beholden to a person instead of a nation.


Ixtellor

P.S. If the police are privatized and corrupt, who brings them to justice?
In your nightmarish world, I would start a private police force then branch out into military.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Jjarro » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:15 pm UTC

Icanis, your point about the benefits of government spending is well taken. Complications like that are what make the whole problem much easier to approach if you are building a system from the ground up.

Since that would be an even more theoretical and abstracted exercise than any discussion of voting rights already must be, I'm not too keen on indulging in it here. It may be hard to avoid.

I don't want to get into a discussion of libertarianism, or the role of government, more than I absolutely have to in order to present the goals and mechanisms of my ideas. Fundamentally, protection of rights is the basic function of government in my view. The protection of rights doesn't necessarily scale in cost to the amount a given person has to be protected; the systematic protection of rights improves the security of those rights for everyone and increases the risk of trying to deprive anyone of their rights. The argument has been made that the rich get more from government protection of, say, property rights. I don't buy that, at least not wholesale: everyone benefits from having a society where their rights are protected and their physical security against foreign aggression is provided for. The army, the courts and the police are legitimate manifestations of government, and can be paid for by excise taxes, light across-the-board-tariffs, property taxes, sales taxes, corporate income taxes, and so on; even here, those who have more property or business to be protected by the forces of government end up paying more.

I don't think the individual income tax is a valid way to judge an individual's contribution to society. I don't think there ought to be an individual income tax at all, but that's another argument. People pay an excise tax on rubber and gas to pay for the highway infrastructure right now. If you shift the entire expense of a given infrastructure over to excise taxes on electricity, water, rubber, gas, or whatever, you put the price of consumption directly on the consumer. This does, in fact, proportionally increase the currently subsidized burden on the poor. This is, actually, a simplifying factor. It means that welfare can be clearly defined; if someone cannot afford their infrastructure excise taxes, they need welfare... or to consume less of the excised goods. Either way, the picture is much clarified by such honesty, and the citizens can see a direct correlation between the excises they are asked to pay and the services they are receiving. The simplest form of welfare may simply be a tax burden reduction or elimination on excise taxes.

Care must be taken here; the idea is not to create an underclass. I do not believe that the costs of infrastructure, housing, transportation and food are so great that the great majority of people can undertake to do well enough for themselves in a free country.

There is not room in this situation for large entitlements or progressive tax schemes. Any entitlement beyond the basic protection of rights would require the suspension of franchise to accept, as would any discount on taxes. This would prevent politicians from playing their favorite game of promising a group something, convincing them they are at least partly dependent on government largess, and then convincing them that only by offering their continued support will their now nigh-guaranteed constituents be able to continue to receive said largess. The ideal political solutions, the ones the system would apply innate pressure toward, would be solutions that encourage independence and personal responsibility and wealth. That would be how you got constituents, not convincing people that you were going to go to Washington to fight for their share of the pork and protection of their checks from the government.

Obviously, this view can only go so far in invalidating the solid arguments made by your numbers, even allowing for the "invisible" part of that tax burden that most people are probably largely oblivious to, such as their employers' portion of the various payroll taxes, corporate income tax, excise taxes and so on. The government would spend and collect less money. There is no other way around it. Obviously, this will not cause me to shed any tears, rather being part of the intent of the proposal. Military adventurism, for instance, becomes particularly ill advised. With the political pressure being to keep the _market price_ of financial independence as low as possible, taxes and spending would be every politicians' foe; the fewer people who suspend their franchise, the more people can throw their support to a given politician.

As for Ixtellor: the voluntary relinquishing of the right to command a country in order to serve a country does not make an army (or any other group) "beholden to a person instead of a nation." I am not in favor, to be clear, of the privatization of the police and military. I have no problem with private security, but it is in no way a sufficient answer. The possible privatization pressure I spoke of, and then reflected on the likely weakness of, would be in infrastructure, administration, and yes, education.

We obviously have an irreconcilable difference on the subject of education. I like private education. I think that in a free country in the absence of subsidized competition, education would be fantastic. That is a different discussion too; I will concede that the best course is either to totally privatize education under this system, or view teachers as every bit the public servant/government pawn as soldiers are, and treat them accordingly.

I hope that makes my imaginary world at least a little less "nightmarish" for you.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Philwelch » Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:12 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
Philwelch wrote:I think there are serious issues with allowing those who pay no tax to vote to confiscate money from those who do. I also think there's good reason to say that some people who pay no tax contribute nothing towards the state, and thus should hold no power over it. It may be a flawed argument, but there are serious, legitimate concerns here. It is far from "ridiculous".


What % of people do you believe don't pay taxes?
Are you making the decision to not count sales taxes and payroll taxes?
What about government fees?


If you get a welfare check from the government and use that welfare check to pay your taxes, you don't count. I'm talking about net taxpayers.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Ixtellor » Mon Dec 08, 2008 7:34 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:
Ixtellor wrote:
Philwelch wrote:I think there are serious issues with allowing those who pay no tax to vote to confiscate money from those who do. I also think there's good reason to say that some people who pay no tax contribute nothing towards the state, and thus should hold no power over it. It may be a flawed argument, but there are serious, legitimate concerns here. It is far from "ridiculous".


What % of people do you believe don't pay taxes?
Are you making the decision to not count sales taxes and payroll taxes?
What about government fees?


If you get a welfare check from the government and use that welfare check to pay your taxes, you don't count. I'm talking about net taxpayers.


So back to my question.

What % of Americans do you believe pay no taxes?
I will concede that if people are paying sales taxes with welfare money they would qualify as paying no taxes.
I think this will increase my initial estimates, but I also believe you are greatly overestimating the number of people who fall under your 'pay no taxes' group.


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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Philwelch » Mon Dec 08, 2008 7:48 pm UTC

It's a matter of principle, Ixtellor, I'm not interested in your questions because they don't illuminate the matter at all.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Ixtellor » Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:13 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:It's a matter of principle, Ixtellor, I'm not interested in your questions because they don't illuminate the matter at all.


Your talking about taking the time to change the US constitution, and write up a whole new set of laws and criteria for voting.

So basically you are saying, that if there is not one single person in the USA who fits your obtuse definintion of people who don't pay taxes, then you would be for changing the constituion based on principle.

I was trying to illustrate to you, that you aren't really talking about any significant group of people, and if we then added in the additional factor of what % of people who 'dont pay any taxes' who actually vote, you are probably talking about a statistically insignificant group.


Ixtellor

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Philwelch » Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:39 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
Philwelch wrote:It's a matter of principle, Ixtellor, I'm not interested in your questions because they don't illuminate the matter at all.


Your talking about taking the time to change the US constitution, and write up a whole new set of laws and criteria for voting.


I'm talking political philosophy, not implementation.

Ixtellor wrote:So basically you are saying, that if there is not one single person in the USA who fits your obtuse definintion of people who don't pay taxes, then you would be for changing the constituion based on principle.


Clearly you don't understand my argument. My argument is that the only people who vote should be people who make a net positive economic contribution to the government. If everyone was a net negative contributor the government would collapse and society would fail, which is one reason why we want to reduce the number of net negative contributors.

Ixtellor wrote:P.S. I want to see a law outlawing Jewish clowns from performing shakespere in space. Its a principle.


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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Jjarro » Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:43 pm UTC

I tend to agree, with Ixtellor, here. It matters what percentages of the population are currently net tax payers as opposed to net tax receivers. We're talking about the availability of participation in the government. If it becomes too difficult to participate in policy-setting, the stability, safety and morality of a culture suffer. Remember that, in a free country, even those who suspend their franchise or are otherwise prevented from participating in government never really give up their ability to rebel, and that's to be avoided.

I've had pretty poor luck finding any kind of slightly trustworthy analysis of this question on the internet, though. It's a tricky question.

Let's take a crack at figuring it out, at least in general terms. The good old CIA World Fact Book tells us that the the U.S.A.'s GDP was 13.79 trillion dollars in 2007. That's a GDP Per-Capita of $45,800. Government spending in the same period was 2.73 trillion dollars. 2.73 out of 13.79 is roughly 20% (0.1979%). (It's my understanding that the percentage has since increased. I'll proceed with 2007 numbers, though.)

20% of $45,800 is $9,160. So that's the "fair share" of spending we're looking for someone to pay for to be a net tax payer. I'm not sure if the CIA's numbers represent only federal spending... It would seem a silly way to do things, but I wouldn't be terribly surprised. Let's assume for argument's sake that we're talking about total government spending, though.

Things get tricky, here; ultimately individuals pay every tax and fee, every dollar comes from them. So, excise taxes, income taxes, payroll taxes, corporate income taxes, various registration and filing fees, separation taxes on natural resources and so on all contribute to that actual individual tax burden. I'm not sure how best to get past this point in determining what rough percentage of individuals pay in less than $9,160. Maybe someone more adept and accustomed to statistics-wrangling can help me out? I don't really enjoy trying to squeeze meaning out of such things, and I would not be surprised to learn I've made mistakes, and I'm open to argument that I may have taken the wrong approach in trying to get us useful data to discuss.

At any rate, I'll make some rough guesses so that I have something to refer back to. Wikipedia's page on personal income in the United States tells us that 42.72% of individual incomes in the United States are under $25,000. With a tax burden of $9,160, that would be $15,840 on which to live. That honestly seems fairly likely to put someone in the net-receiver category to me, given the cost of living, but we have an official standard of poverty to go by when seeking to determine such things. The poverty guideline is $10,400. Add in the individual fragment of the budget, and we get 19,560. So it seems relatively safe to assume that people making less than 20,000 dollars are net tax receivers. Returning to wikipedia and gainfully employing a calculator, we come out with 29.74% of Americans earning $20,000 a year or less.

SO, an extremely rough estimate of 30-40 percent of Americans seem to currently fall into the category of net receivers, handled this way, depending on your standards. Still, this data is only an estimate reached through some admitted leaps. And, it's only valid given a current tax, benefit and welfare structure, which probably apply pressure in one way or another to the poverty number.

Still, it's not nothing.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Fallible » Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:37 am UTC

Hi all,

I'd like to paraphrase some ideas I've read recently, I think they were from 'The Undercover Economist", but I'm not sure where I first heard them.

Let us consider a cost/benefit analysis of voting:

Costs:
20 min -1 hour of your time (in Australia) (Longer in America I'm told?)

Benefits: A warm fuzzy feeling that you've participated in Democracy, or helped advance a cause important to you.

Note that you haven't actually advanced your cause by voting. This may seem controversial, but imagine what would have happened in your last election had you not voted? In my case, my electorate would have received one fewer vote for my candidate of choice, and the guy who won, would still have won!

So given this, who actually votes under the current system? People who get a stronger warm fuzzy feeling from voting than they'd get from doing something else with their time. Note, I'm including bowing to peer pressure and fulfilling self or society imposed notions of duty as 'warm fuzzy feelings'. My terminology might be slightly derogatory, but I hope this is balanced by the fact that I myself vote on the basis of 'warm fuzzy feelings' such as wanting to imporve my country.

So if you were a politician, and wanted people to vote for you, how would you use this insight into why people vote to decide on policy platforms. Clearly, policies which deliver the greatest warm-fuzzy feelings will be most effective. Also, it encourages extreme politicians. Moderates aren't very exciting, someone who says they're going to be responsible and honest and sensible doesn't inspire you to waste a few hours in the same way as a firebrand does.

I'm a strong believer in Australia's compulsory voting because it counteracts this. Politician's in Australia are just as much ratbags as anywhere else in the world, but here they don't have to motivate people to get to the polling station. They're free to concentrate on their policies, qualifications, and whatever lies they can get away with. (quite a few as Johnny's proven :)

Fallible,


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