Making Democracy Safe for the World
Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote.
~ Gary North (2006)
Democracy, especially the virulent, vampire-like variety practiced in modern America, may very well be condemned to collapse, but that's no reason to give up on it. Despite history telling us that all democracies inevitably devour themselves, history also tells us that every system of governance mankind can dream up have all come to an end, as for example the much lamented American Republic, snuffed out after barely a century or so.
Yet, even when things look hopeless and all recorded history tells us our democracy is doomed, that's no excuse to give up the ghost. Even in the darkest of times people still give it their best because hope springs eternal, and as a great American once asked in another time of trouble, "was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor"?Hell no it wasn't, and there is still time to save our democracy, but to do so we must remove the millstones that hang about our system‘s neck — we must restrict the franchise. Caroline Baum recently noted, "when half the population is on the receiving end of government programs and has no skin in the cost, they will encourage their elected representatives to vote ‘yes' on every new benefit that comes down the pike." That, right there, is the root of America's overriding problem: our future-crushing, insurmountable fiscal deficits.
Now off the cuff, the thought of removing the right to vote from millions of Americans will strike many — especially those to be removed from the voting rolls — as anathema to our idea of liberty. The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that to pull a lever is the Mother Wellspring of all that is good and plenty; the voting booth an ever munificent red, white, and blue Fountain of Freedom.
The superstitious belief that to vote means to be free is so firmly imbedded in our DNA that on this point the brain of the modern American is impervious to any and all assault, you may as well debate a rock. So admittedly my idea to restrict the franchise is as likely to happen as Alan Greenspan coming out to publicly lobby for Ron Paul's Audit the Fed bill, but what the hell, why not give it a try?
After all, was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
The Great Big No
Ambition, love of power, civil emolument, and greed of gain have been the great moving forces in politics under all forms of government.
~ William Graham Sumner (1877)
The only solution to keeping the political class from voting the working class into poverty under a democratic system of governance is to restrict the franchise. In order to protect ourselves we must remove from the voter rolls every politician and every person of voting age who receive any part of their income, at all, from the public treasury directly or — if they are employed by or are the owners of any firm that has any government entity as a customer — indirectly.
Restricting the franchise is in actual fact a long-standing, accepted American tradition. Convicted felons, the mentally incompetent, and children do not have any right to vote and we, and they, are better off for it. Just because someone is not allowed to vote does not deprive him or her of the protection of law. They are still citizens, just of the non-voting variety.
In addition, the condition of the disenfranchised is purely voluntary — they may, by resigning their office, quitting their taxpayer funded job, or refusing their taxpayer funded lifestyle automatically be allowed to vote again, but for safety's sake officeholders, upon resigning, will be allowed to vote again starting only on the fifth anniversary of their re-joining the private work force, five years being, in the opinion of our best rehab counselors, sufficient time to wean a human off power.
Allowing those who live off taxpayer funds to vote is inherently dangerous; they have what we in the financial world call "an inherit conflict of interest." Everyone wants a raise; the bureaucrat and those who otherwise receive taxpayer money endlessly yearn for more loot, and the politician for a far more addictive, lofty coin: power.
This makes politicians particularly dangerous creatures; they are all imbued with an insatiable greed, a boundless urge to grab more of what they crave above all. And there, at the level of each individual politician, lies the nub of any society's problems, and restricting them from the franchise will help do something even more important than protect our paychecks — it will protect our liberty.
Remember Dad telling you that you'll do it his way because "I pay the bills around here"? The same clear, just method of logic must be applied to elections. Purging the franchise of those who live off of taxation will restore adult supervision over our nation's household. As children on an allowance do not get to tell the parents how to run things, so will Washington DC — and each state capital — see the house party come to a quick end, as if Mom and Dad came back from vacation a bit early.
You don't let children run the show, as any reading of Lord of the Flies will attest, and, if I may steal a phrase from a great man, there's been a lack of adult supervision over all levels of American government for decades. Come next election, America would do well to send all these children out into the backyard to play while the adults gather round the kitchen table and decide on things.
And mind they play quietly, as children should be seen and not heard, so we'll need to take a page from the McCain-Feingold Act and decree that all public or private communications by anyone who receives any taxpayer money (excepting any candidate) will be strictly forbidden for three months both before and after any election. Such a policy is beneficial on a number of levels, as for example it'll leave more airtime for American Idol re-runs, so clearly this is a win-win situation for all Americans.
Plus, restricting the franchise will truly make bureaucrats and politicians public servants, because just like a servant you do not get to tell the Lord of the Manor how to arrange the garden, or not to smoke, or not to drink on Sundays, or that they are too fat — to wit, dust the china cabinet, clean out the stables, and otherwise keep your mouth shut and your thoughts to yourself.
We could even make every public building have two entrances, one for the workers, the taxpayers, up in front and one for the politicians, in the rear alley next to the dumpster, just to remind them where they stand in their fellow Americans' esteem.
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread,
She whipped them all well and put them to bed.
~ Nursery Rhyme
Taking a page from Alexander Hamilton's reason behind making all the states' debts into one federal debt (which bound together the men of capital to the politicians in Washington) we too need something to bind all the workers, each and every one, by a common denominator and it can be this: all will pay the same percentage amount of their paychecks in taxes, no exceptions, no deductions.
Conversely, each and every politician, bureaucrat, and recipient of taxpayer funds will pay no taxes at all on their paychecks. This may seem like it is favorable to the political class, but to the contrary it is a detriment to them — it is something that will set them apart in the eyes of the voters — and those that need to be watched must be highly visible at all times.
Some more perceptive reader may protest that this is a bit more civilized than what the public safety requires, being how dangerous the political class are, and they'd be right. It would be far safer for the public to insist that every officeholder should bear a highly visible mark in some way, the better to know which ass to put your boot into.
America already has the beginnings of such a system in place; here the politician is easy to spot, racing by in their heavily armored SUVs, windows tinted black, while the extra perky police hold back the traffic.
Naturally, this plan if instituted would raise a hue and cry among the vampire set, those who live off the sweat of others' labor. You'd think people with their mouth clamped firmly on the nurse tit of the public treasury should be too busy suckling to sound off about how things should be run, but never forget that Americans are a "can-do" kind of people, so they somehow manage to speak even while nursing non-stop.
This can only mean one thing: they are always talking out their ass, so when the teachers union spokesman, with tear stained eyes, solemnly intones that the new budget is up 7% year over year "for the children," you know that he is full of s__t and best ignored.
A friend recently sent me a quote credited to a Sir Alex Tytler that reads in part, "A democracy…can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure." This quote appears to be a fraud; it is likely that no such man ever said any such thing. Nonetheless, there is infinite truth in those words.
Nature has its own checks and balances, and this can be seen in God's creations, as every parasite is by necessity far smaller than the host it feeds off of. With half of Americans now living off the other half, we have reached a tipping point. The barnacle is as large as the ship.
Our democracy is a turbulent ride, a fun house carnival with no limits on any ride's speed; popular passions have long ago removed every safety harness. The insistence that every sentiment being with a pulse has a God-given right to vote, that The People have an unquestionable right to rule in any manner they see fit, as long as 51% keep their fists in the air, is as illogical and reactionary as the belief that one man, a king or a dictator, has an unquestionable right to command.
All systems need a check, a means to keep things in balance, and American democracy, unfettered by any parental restraint, has grown up to be a pack of spoiled little s__ts, undisciplined, endlessly demanding, obnoxious, violent, and, above all, in desperate need of a good beating.
If we do not introduce any checks and balances to account for them, the little bastards will soon enough suck us dry.
August 4, 2009
C.J. Maloney [send him mail] lives and works in New York City. He is currently writing a book on Arthurdale, West Virginia during the New Deal. He blogs for Liberty & Power on the History News Network website.
Copyright © 2009 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.