"…people who vote are quick to distance themselves from the guy to whom they gave their support. It seems to me that if your candidate lies, cheats, steals, or gets a whole bunch of people killed you — the voter who supported him — might share some blame. … With the secret ballot, everyone can claim to be disappointed with the guy they actually helped elect!"
In the piece above, I attempted to lay out some very basic non-voting logic, as well as provide a handy-dandy bibliography to some of the exceptional non-voting prose from giants like Butler Shafer, Wendy McElroy, and others. From the very positive feedback I received, it would appear that I got my message across. Still, I know people continue to fight with themselves on this matter. I have close friends who face internal and external debates about why voting is so necessary, and why anyone who really "understands the struggle" would have to take part, and similar hooey.
The simple fact of the matter is this: Voting — and I'm talking here about national-level elections for public office, but similar logic is available, if less applicable, at other levels — is a waste of time. Shaffer's suggestion that one is better served doing a thorough examination of his navel lint was overly kind. This essay represents my (hopefully) final volley in this debate. Thereafter, my navel lint will get all my attention on Election Day. When that's done, I'll find something else to do that won't involve entering a booth to select the liar I like best.
Why Is Voting for President a Waste of Time?
Voting for President of the U.S. is a waste because the issues that should garner the most interest and cause decisive post-election changes will remain unchanged no matter who is elected. This is absolute, undisputed, unmitigated, hard, cold, polished-to-a-high-gloss, quick-fried-to-a-crackly-crunch, naturally-seasoned, artificially-flavored fact.
How do I know? Well, for one thing, it's been true since the first election for president ever held in the U.S. Yes, it was true immediately after those initial rich white guys — affectionately known as the Founding Fathers — put their let's-have-a-country-of-our-own scam to pen and paper. The truths have only gotten more obvious, while developing wider scope, since those early days in the late 1700's.
Jim Davies, a columnist over on Strike-the-Root, put together an interesting list of the items about which one typically complains regarding the government. His list included many of the oldies but goodies: fair elections, taxation, bankers running America, needless foreign wars, politicians ignoring the Constitution, etc. He then offered solutions to each, culminating with an analysis of how the completion of this list would result in a "better" government, or not. His conclusion is the same as mine: One can't get that which he should most desire — freedom and liberty — from the government.
Let's create another list, shall we? (My list won't be as long as Davies' but that's okay.)
Governments exist to make war. They always have. This is because war is a racket. Standing armies, which are remarkably misnamed, are the realization of the fact that without professional soldiers, wars are often quick and indecisive or long and ridiculous. (That is, states can still fight, but it's not really that, well, satisfying and the wars can fizzle out due to simple logistics like running out of ammo or food, or having to tend the crops.) With professional soldiers employed by a highly-developed state, the cost of supplying them, feeding them, and housing them can be off-loaded to others. This makes it possible to invade and conquer distant lands and make "efficient" war, i.e., kill a lot of people very quickly. Best of all, the profits can still be absorbed by the war-racketeers.
Without a standing army, just defending the plot of land you occupy could be a challenge, although frankly, defending it often, or ever, will likely be unnecessary. The emergence of the State, dating back to Sumer and ancient Mesopotamia led to the rise of the state-military complex. These early warfare states arose out of the supposed need for state-financed facilitation of the public good via public works. Make no mistake however. The real reasons for the existence of the military-industrial complex had (and has) little to do with freedom and everything to do with power, control, and corruption.
Question: Will the incredibly large worldwide U.S. military presence, including over 750 bases, be curtailed dependent upon who wins any election for president?
Answer: Nope. The subject won't even be seriously debated.
Given the pending "financial crisis" one might argue that the gravy train of govern-mint cash for weapons and those who make them will dry up on its own. Don't count on it.
Websites such as LewRockwell.com, Strike-the-Root.com, the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), the Mises Institute, the Library of Economics and Liberty, the Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF), and many others have provided and continue to provide a cornucopia of information on economics, the Federal Reserve (the Fed) and all that inhabits the space in-between. Inspired writers, from Murray Rothbard to Lew Rockwell to Mark Thornton have provided ample education on historically relevant events and currently-held mythical beliefs. (Occasionally, even a poser like me chimes in.)
The methodology employed by the Fed — the printing of money with no underlying market-generated value — causes inflation. Inflation — the perceived rise in consumer prices — results in a massive transfer of wealth from those at the bottom of the economic food chain to those at the top. Frankly, that's why the Fed was created! (The debasement of currency for the benefit of the State dates back at least to Roman times.)
Question: Will the Federal Reserve be abolished dependent upon who wins any election for president?
Follow-up question: Regardless of who is elected, will the wealth transfer that has corresponded with the loss of over 80% of the value of the dollar since 1970 be stopped like one of those Toyota Tundra trucks?
Answer: Not hardly. Best case, it gets mentioned in passing.
Despite the fact that the abolition of the Federal Reserve would not, I repeat, not result in the end of the State, it would still be a nice step. Instead, when the current fiat currency scheme goes belly-up — and it will, because they always do — one can be sure that agents of the State will come up with a new one to take its place. The same financiers (or people just like them) who absorbed that transferred wealth the first go-round will return again to the teat, fat and happy as ever.
Any bailout, such as the one currently under discussion, simply provides an opportunity to really gouge from the taxpayer for a specific instance, but the systematic transfer of wealth, caused by the inflation/debt sandwich, both predicated on the printing of money, continues either way. There is a plethora of great insight out there about why economic crises are the rule versus the exception and why the current "crisis" is just another scam, including but certainly not limited to:
- Robert Higgs, "The Bogus Financial Crisis" podcast from the Lew Rockwell Show;
- Stefan Molyneux, "The Empire Strikes Out" video on YouTube;
- George F. Smith, "Crop Seeding in America" essay on Strike-the-Root.com.
Everywhere one goes, he is taxed, often heavily. When you buy a grande-sized cup of over-priced coffee, you pay taxes. When you fill-up the tank of that long-term-financed SUV, you pay about 40% of the cost of each gallon of gas in taxes. A typical American works about four (4) months to pay "his fair share" of income taxes. (How did it come to be true that anyone has a "fair share" of something he didn't volunteer to give?) Others have already proven that there is no such thing as a just tax; but of course, the purpose of taxation has never been justice.
Worse yet, when you die, if you've somehow managed to sequester any of the money you made along the way, generally in the form of earthy possessions (while simultaneously managing to keep eating regularly and sleeping inside) your heirs will pay additional taxes on the value of those possessions, referred to as your estate. This after you, the deceased, paid taxes on all of that stuff as it was acquired!
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), just a collection vehicle for income taxes, operates like a police organization, with armed thugs, raids on homes, all that. The best part: The amount of "hidden taxation" from the printing of money by the Fed more than accounts for the income generated by the IRS. I'd assert that they don't even "need" the money, despite the amount of government income supposedly due to individual income taxes. (Maybe that's better left for another essay.)
Question: Will the IRS be abolished dependent upon who wins any election for president of the United States?
Follow-up question: Regardless of who is elected, will the practice of taxing the citizen at every turn be substantially trimmed back, kinda like the hair during one of Nick Arrojo's cuts on What Not to Wear?
Answer: Absolutely, positively, not.
Exemplary of the type of Cat-in-the-Hat lunacy available when viewing the U.S. political system, any suggestion about changing the income tax system almost always includes the term "revenue neutral," as if the amount of money is okay, it's just how they collect it that needs modification. Discussions of taxes by either party take on a surreal air, as if the laws of logic, math, and reality can be suspended at will. A buddy of mine summed it up after he watched Obama's acceptance speech at the DNC. "The best part was when Obama said he'd cut taxes and afterward, buy everyone a pony and later, a saddle for that pony." The Republicants are no better and only the mathematically-challenged think so.
A person would have to have spent his entire life in a gated community way off the grid or quietly sleeping under a large rock nourished by only his thumb to not notice that the prison population in the United States is large. Very. Large. There has been no shortage of reporting and opinion about the fact that the United States of America can accurately be described as a prison nation. I've personally lamented the fact that much of the prison population in the U.S. is both non-violent and vice-generated. (When I say "vice-generated" I mean simply that people are in jail for doing something to themselves that other people don't like.) The fact that we've got a war on (some) drugs, not a war on (all) drugs, is equally obvious.
I've never been one to decry a good conspiracy theory, but I maintain no strong opinion about the involvement of the CIA in the U.S. drug trade. For all I know, there is a building at Langley where government workers are actually cooking cocaine for eventual distribution as you read this essay. I couldn't care less, because that's not the point. What you ingest is your business and will continue to be so long as people have ownership of their bodies. (Hat tip: Stephan Kinsella on how we come to own ourselves.) While I agree with Kinsella, it seems that there are a lot of people who aren't convinced, and many of them have guns and work for the State. That is the point!
Question: Will marijuana (or any other supposedly "controlled" substance) be legalized dependent upon who wins any election for president?
Follow-up Question: Will the prison-industrial complex be smashed like a cockroach crawling out of a trailer park dumpster dependent upon who wins any election for president?
Answer: Hell no.
Second follow-up question: Will the fact that, according to a New York Times editorial, "one in nine black men, ages 20 to 34, are serving time" (often for drug-related offenses) be substantially and directly addressed by any elected official, including any black elected official, ever?
Answer: Never in a million years. (Frankly, the black politician is probably just glad it's not him in prison.)
Providing a bit of almost terminal irony, Paul Armentano notes an interesting fact about one of the contenders for this year's I-run-the-world sweepstakes:
[D]uring the mid-1980s, [vice presidential candidate] Biden was the chief senate architect of the federal anti-drug laws that re-established mandatory minimum sanctions for various drug possession crimes, and established the racially based 100-to-1 sentencing disparity for crimes involving the possession of crack versus powder cocaine. Many academics have credited Biden’s law as one of the primary reasons why America now possesses the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, and why approximately one out of every nine young African-American males are now in prison. (Emphasis added.)
The chart below shows incarcerated Americans since 1920. Note the sharp rise beginning near 1980. And now this Biden guy wants to help lead change for America? You cannot make this stuff up!
And that's Not Even the Half of It
In this essay I have only examined four (4) areas — war, money, taxation, and liberty. No matter what other areas one examines: the chronically-mediocre educational system, the pharma-paid murderers known as the FDA, the theft-fest known as the United Nations, the security-industrial-congressional complex, the answers will generally be the same. The real problems will not be addressed in any substantial way as a result of a national election for president. The problems exist as a direct and unavoidable consequence of the existence of a coercive state. The agents of the State can't fix the problems because the existence of the State causes them!
These issues don't exist only as an unfortunate result of slightly misinformed public servants desperately trying to meet the challenges they have nobly volunteered to address on our behalf, but failing. They exist because lying, sack-of-cow-dung megalomaniacs created them, either as unintended consequences of some dubious scheme or as direct means to the acquisition of power and money. Two other points should be noted.
One, when I assert that voting doesn't matter, I'm not suggesting that the "winners" have been pre-ordained by unknown and powerful men, like some scenario from The Matrix come to life. I'm saying it doesn't matter who wins since the winners are simply proxies for the game within the game. The people who finance elections finance both sides and will get paid back either way. The people who are fleeced as a result of elections inhabit both sides and will keep paying either way.
Two, when I list the failures and evil machinations of the current government, I am not suggesting that such behavior has culminated with the latest set of would-be leaders. In other words, voting isn't a waste because the present crop of contestants is so bad. The suggestion that George W. Bush is the worst president ever rests equally on the availability heuristic and a misunderstanding of history.
The first president of the United States led a military force to quell a civilian rebellion caused by one of his cabinet member's revenue-generation schemes. That the new nation had just finished an armed rebellion, fought in part against unfair taxation, is rather ironic. It has only gotten worse since then. Again, the existence of the State is the problem. Even a president exhibiting such obvious mental limits as Dubya is but a symptom.
The contests between people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and the similar contests between people like John McCain and Mitt Romney may very well be legitimate, with the outcome of primaries and caucuses in places like Iowa and New Hampshire fiercely-contested and unknown to all. The same might even be said about the general election. Pretty clearly, voting fraud is not a figment of the imagination, so someone cares about winning.
Fans of a particular NFL team care who wins as well. Analogous to elections, the people who actually benefit from NFL games are a tiny subset of the people who care. (By the way, I love the NFL, and can be found watching almost any game telecast at any time. Now that I consider it, I might actually benefit more from watching the NFL than voting. Yahtzee!) Getting excited about electing a particular master is incredibly stupid if one will still be a slave — subject to virtually the same amount of random theft and rape-as-needed — after the election is over. Given that over 40% of the voting-eligible U.S. population stays home on Election Day, I'm evidently not the only one who realizes this.
Now, none of this means that all is lost and one must become cynical and negative. Perish the thought! There is a wide range of pursuits that become available when the smoke surrounding and generated by busy work such as voting is cleared away. Enjoy them. (Personally, I'm looking forward to some great laughs as people like Tina Fey lampoon Sarah Palin.) More importantly, as Woodson taught long ago, freedom begins in the mind. Similarly, Rockwell opined just recently, "Real change comes from working in the world of enterprise and ideas." There is work to be done.
…It is necessary to recognize that the ultimate power of every government – whether of kings or caretakers – rests solely on opinion and not on physical force. The agents of government are never more than a small proportion of the total population under their control. This implies that no government can possibly enforce its will upon the entire population unless it finds widespread support and voluntary cooperation within the nongovernmental public. It implies likewise that every government can be brought down by a mere change in public opinion, i.e., by the withdrawal of the public’s consent and cooperation.
Indeed. It is vital to realize that "the ultimate power of every government rests solely on opinion and not on physical force."
Voting illustrates both support and consent. Withdraw them, please.
Wilt Alston [send him mail] lives in Rochester, NY, with his wife and three children. When he's not training for a marathon or furthering his part-time study of libertarian philosophy, he works as a principal research scientist in transportation safety, focusing primarily on the safety of subway and freight train control systems.