Voting & Skin in the Game

As I wrote last week, I’ve become increasingly skeptical of democracy over the last few years. That’s not to say I’m against it or would prefer another system, just that my thoughts on the question are increasingly outside the box mainstream thought is currently confined to.

Take women’s suffrage for example. Why I wouldn’t say that I’m firmly against it, I’m beginning to think that it has not necessarily been the great change that I’ve been taught it was. As has been observed, women tend to favour security over liberty and will vote according to who they believe will best offer the former. This means that women will vote for more government as they believe (wrongly in the long-term), that this will give them more security. This is especially so for women that rely on government for their income, whether through welfare or the paper moving and typing jobs women are well-represented in throughout government offices. The reason why many married women are more likely to vote to the right is because they more sensibly view their husband as the source of their security and not the state.

But let’s not pick on the ladies for this. One thing I am certain of is that I don’t support universal suffrage. And really; nobody does. We all draw the line somewhere and what we do now is draw a line at a certain age. In other words, we discriminate based on age. The reasoning is that people are assumed to be generally mature enough by around the age of eighteen, twenty or twenty-one depending on where you live. This may or may not be true when looking at people individually but that’s the way things must work if the system is to be run. Generalisations must be made that won’t be true of everyone when making decisions that effect everyone. It’s not fair but the alternative is to not allow decisions to be made for everyone at all by a governing body; something unpalatable to most people.

Now being in favour of discrimination whether it be when making friends, or deciding which watermelon to buy, I see no reason why it couldn’t be taken further with regards who should be allowed to vote.

I mentioned “skin in the game” which is a term of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s (who I keep mentioning and probably emulating), to describe people who are able to avoid the consequences of their actions. He is usually referring to people who have made ruinous decisions for which they are immune to the consequences. Like a tenured professor whose theory of agrarian reform destroys an African country and carries on his career without so much of a loss of face with his peers.

I want to take this same concept with regard to voting as well as a little influence from the novel Starship Troopers where one is required to perform dangerous and difficult service before having influence in their society. Not the movie.

The basic idea is that nobody who doesn’t directly contribute to society in a concrete, measurable way is able to have a say in society. This eliminates children as well as anyone who doesn’t work.

It also includes anyone deriving income from the state in any capacity. Let’s assume that the current social arrangements in say, Australia are as they are for this. So nobody receiving welfare of any kind is eligible to vote. Nobody working for the government or even businesses that receive government contracts is allowed to vote. Both the owners of said businesses and employees of those businesses. So bureaucrats, politicians, pensioners, welfare recipients and contractors are all ineligible to vote. Why? Because as their income is derived from the state, they have every incentive to vote in a way that would increase or at least maintain things as they are.

Where the Starship Troopers influence comes in is that there should be exceptions made for people doing dangerous work. This is where things get a bit messy as their are few professions where people are regularly in danger. This would require very specific categories but would include front-line military personnel, non-traffic/bureaucrat police and ditto for paramedics, doctors, emergency nurses and firemen. Basically anyone who will be put in danger in an emergency or just has regular hazards to deal with in their daily life. As this is messy their is the danger for the category to be expanded to those only in danger of paper cuts but the alternative is a blanket ban or just conferring voting rights on people in these categories who have suffered and survived.

I don’t want to get distracted by technicalities though. The point is that this should leave a pool of people who are directly or indirectly paying into the system who are the only ones able to vote. I would be excluded from voting as when I was working in Australia I was mostly working in public education. If you don’t pay into the system, you don’t get to make decisions about it. Similarly, if you violate the rules of the system, you no longer get a say in them.

To come back to the ladies, women who have children (and critically – look after them), would also be able to vote as long as they don’t derive they aren’t getting government shekels. So women raising (and those who have raised), children to adulthood would be allowed to vote as they are then directly contributing to society.

Now how could anyone possibly have a problem with this? Well, I would expect the usual comments about “fairness”, a word I find as difficult to define as “racism” now. There would be people who take a moral tone and throw around other terms like oppression and bring corporations into it. But how could you be against it without financial incentive not to be?

These people, quite like me probably understand that those with skin in the game are not likely to be so generous with what gets shaved off their salary when given better representation. Representation I might add that is far more proportional to their contributions than is currently the case. Maybe I’m wrong and they’d maintain it. Maybe the politicians they elect would still forever find ways to ignore their will. I don’t know.

The only thing I’m pretty certain of is that it’ll never happen.

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