Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The kine that tread the grain

This is something that I've been thinking heavily upon in the past few years. I find our current system of no-cost universal suffrage to be unsustainable. Therefore, in the spirit of preserving our great nation, I propose that we continue to make suffrage universal but no longer make it free.

Let me explain. I do not want to deny anyone the right to vote. Attaching a cost would have that affect, but in the end it is not the desired outcome. Instead, I want all people to place a higher value on the votes that they can cast. Rather than voting being a meaningless thing with no value attached to it that we must do once every few years, I would like voting to be something that is cherished.

People do not value that which they are given, or that which they do not earn. This is the greatest single failure in mass socialism. If we accept this, why do we continue to allow an unjust system of entitlement to continue in this nation? The bottom 50% of workers pay less than 3.5% of taxes while the top 5% pays over half. And yet the votes of the bottom 50% of earners count every bit as much as the votes of the top 5%. This is not fair. Furthermore, this is unsustainable in a climate where politicians willingly pitch class warfare as a campaign platform and where people view the rich as evil, greedy and selfish.

As long as the American citizen can freely vote to steal money through reapportionment of wealth we will be caught in a downward spiral where fewer and fewer people are pulling the cart, and more and more are riding it. Eventually, Atlas will Shrug.

To counterbalance this I have a few proposals. The first and most logical is this -- a nonprogressive income tax based on a single flat percentage of income. For those who do not currently pay taxes, this would be a burden -- but what sort of justice is it where a man who works hard may come out with less than a man who does not work? Why should a greater and greater amount be taken out of a paycheck for increased success? This is perhaps the simplest and easiest way to eliminate some of the pain of the current system. Under a nonprogressive, universal income tax everyone would have a fair stake in the game.

An alternative to this would be to keep the current progressive tax system but require that one must present that year's income tax return showing a net positive amount paid to the government in order to vote in that year. This is similar to voting on "shares" in a corporation except that it does not afford the rich more votes based on the increased amount of dollars. However, the principle is the same -- if you want to vote, you have to buy in. There is absolutely no valid reason for a person who has not even paid the "cover charge" to get to decide how the nation is run.

A third idea is to have anyone able to vote based on some sort of earned suffrage, which must be universally available. By that I mean that anyone should be eligible to earn their citizenship, but that it must nevertheless be earned. Citizenship would, under this system, be voluntary. I feel this is a strong idea, but the devil is in the details. What would qualify a person for citizenship? Public service, of course...but what constitutes sufficient service to the public? Military service, would be one, including the national guard and the reserves. Would being a fireman or a police officer count? How about a doctor or nurse?

My tentative answer to this is to allow any person of any vocation, skilled or otherwise, to opt to work for society for a specified amount of time to earn their suffrage. Thus, a bricklayer could lay bricks for, say, five years. An engineer could engineer; a soldier could soldier; a doctor could doctor. No vocation is worth more than any other...and if you're unskilled, there's no harm in that: you join the military.

The crux of the matter, though, is that at the end of the day they would have to buy in to the system. Suffrage would come with a price -- greater for some, perhaps, but a price nonetheless.

Under this system there exists the risk of tyranny: the citizenry riding roughshod over the non-suffraged members. But aren't we at that point now anyway? The tyranny of an unchecked majority? We see the effects of a rabid, unlimited "democratic" majority in the French Revolution -- is that what anybody wants? Furthermore, suffrage would be guaranteed to be universal: if you don't like it, sign up and then vote. It would end the never ending deluge of complaints about the system.

In summary, I believe that the kine that tread the grain should be rewarded. In that train of thought, though, those that do not tread should not eat.


Anonymous said...

Nice to see someone out there doing a little thinking. Here is some grist for the mill. Considering your obvious affinity for biblical scripture, I would like to point out Mark 12:41-43 which states something very clearly in opposition not just to your particular proposal but to your whole way of thinking of American life. "Verily I say unto you. That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury." That 3.5% makes a much larger impact on the quality of life of someone making only $17K a year than the 5% of someone making a quarter of a million. Such is the cost of capitalism. If you don't like it, you should resign your citizenship and move to a country that taxes less. Thanks for reading.