So Many Issues
Even with the best voting system theoretically possible, a representative system will still fail to reflect the will of the people. There are too many permutations of issues to be represented by a small number of candidates. Consider the plight of a voter who wants the following:
|Legal medical marijuana|
|Space-based missile defense|
|Restrictions on second and third trimester abortions|
|More public transportation|
|Stiff penalties for slow drivers who use the left lane|
|Government owned monster truck arenas|
|Long jail terms for spammers|
|More bike trails|
|Elimination of farm subsidies|
|Free beer for the homeless|
|Tougher emissions regulations on coal fired power plants|
Is there any candidate of any political party that represents this combination of viewpoints? Some of these viewpoints are represented by some Republican and others are represented by some Democratic candidates. [The above positions are not my positions, by the way.]
One way to make it possible to have the government better reflect the will of the people is to strictly separate the powers of the different legislative bodies. The issue of how to educate the children should not be tied to the issue of whether medical marijuana should be legal or whether we should deploy an orbiting missile defense capability.
Enforcement of the 10th Amendment would be a step for more democracy – both good and bad. Some states would vote for things that are worse than average, some better. The will of the people is not always better than the will of the experts, but I am willing to accept that risk.
Majority rule implies minority doesn’t rule. Not good if you are the odd person out – whether that is by race, religion, intelligence level, or psychological temperament.
Do we want entertainment choices to be decided democratically? Should all people listen to country music? Top 40 pop? Should clothing styles be decided democratically? Should we all vote together to determine what style of car to drive?
Some decisions are better left to the market. The market is the result of billions of individual choices. It is a “voting system” that allows for both majority and minority voices to be heard.
On the other hand, some choices cannot be made by the market due to natural monopoly problems. What noise level is allowed in the neighborhood? Build roads or bike trails? What shall the law be? Such decisions must be made as a group.
But it is possible to allow some shopping even for these choices: by people voting with their feet. Those who love neon can move to Las Vegas Nevada. Those who hate outdoor advertising can move to Columbia Maryland. The more decisions that are made locally, the more people can vote with their feet.
Now, some might note that this voting by feet can result in rich people living in low-tax enclaves to dodge paying for the welfare system. One way to fix this would be to use the income tax as it was originally intended: a tax only on the very wealthy. The flatter and more regressive taxes could be restricted to the state and local level. This could be done by dramatically raising the personal exemption while getting the federal government out of issues that belong to localities: police, public transport, education, etc.
Another approach would be to fund state governments primarily with property taxes with a per-family deductible. Wealthy enclaves would end up paying more to the state since property values are higher.
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Copyright© 2003, Carl S. Milsted, Jr. All rights reserved.