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Alex Gregory

Why does working for the state mean that you can't also be a "customer"?

dearieme

Yup, no votes for schoolteachers nor for those living on "benefits". Also, no votes for anyone under, say, 35 - we start life drawing wealth from parents and state and only in our mid-thirties (I guess) do we become net payers. How about no votes for those whose life expectancy lies this side of the next general Election? Probably not worth the fuss. But useful though reform of the franchise is, it's not enough. A bit of Reaction is probably required: how about zero pay for MPs? I'd suggest a written constitution to restrict government, but the US one does such a poor job that I'm none too sure.

Jim

"I believe that people who derive their main form of income from the state (yes, including teachers) should not be given the vote."

Banning people who derive income from the state from voting is like banning people who derive income from Ford from buying a Ford.

And quite apart from that, I think you're missing an obvious potential for strategic abuse of such a 'system', as one set of voters could elect a government which promised to nationalise - and thus disenfranchise the employees of - a particular sector. Sounds like a recipe for an ever-expanding state and an ever-decreasing electorate - The Road to Serfdom indeed!

Incidentally, I presume your definition of someone who derives income from the state includes anyone who sells their services to the state, such as management consultants, taxi-drivers and toilet cleaners?

AJE

Why does working for the state mean that you can't also be a "customer"?

Because someone, eventually, will have to pick up the bill and pay for it.

Banning people who derive income from the state from voting is like banning people who derive income from Ford from buying a Ford.

No it's not. It's like banning Ford employees from forcing Toyota customers to also buy a Ford.

one set of voters could elect a government which promised to nationalise - and thus disenfranchise the employees of - a particular sector

Interesting point, but i'm not at all convinced. I'll think about wether that's empirically/theoretically likely. My instinct says it isn't.

I presume your definition of someone who derives income from the state includes anyone who sells their services to the state, such as management consultants, taxi-drivers and toilet cleaners?

Correct.

Thon Brocket

I advocate the separation of powers of spending (=legislation) and taxation by constituting two separately-elected legislature - one to legislate, and one to tax.

The legislature would function pretty much like the House of Commons, but without the power to tax. That power would pass to a taxing chamber whose job it is to raise tax at the Commons' request to cover necessary expenditure engendered by legislation. Taxing chamber members would run on their taxation promises alone, and legislators would lack the power themselves to raise taxes to cover any election promises; they would need to persuade the taxers of the merits of the legislation before it became law.

So bribe-em-with-their-own-money politics would be very nearly impossible; lobbyists would go extinct; and nobody loses his vote - indeed everybody now has two votes. Call it Double Democracy.

Joe Otten

Simple 'economic' question. How much money is right to vote worth the typical teacher or soldier?

This is how much extra it would cost to attract the same calibre of people into those careers.

Er, why do we want to spend that much extra, again?

Jim

"Because someone, eventually, will have to pick up the bill and pay for it."

I mean customer in the sense of someone who is or isn't able to choose their provider. Ford employees can choose who to buy their car from, so why can't state employees help choose who is in government?

"It's like banning Ford employees from forcing Toyota customers to also buy a Ford."

Well the idea with national government is that you just have one at a time, isn't it? If you don't like that idea, you should really say so up front. And of course if people don't like the government in their area they can always leave - nobody's 'forcing' them to stay there. I seem to remember you extolling the virtues of government-less Somalia, for example, so why not try there?

"I'll think about wether that's empirically/theoretically likely. My instinct says it isn't."

Suddenly you care about empirical likelihood? How empirically likely is it that anyone who gets income from the government will vote to disenfranchise themselves? Or was the idea that a select group of free-market economists (obviously not government employed) would seize power and rule with a benevolent omniscience instead?

"Correct."

Hotels, stationary suppliers, phone companies, software companies, university staff, any independent providers to the BBC, thousands of housing associations and private landlords, private healthcare providers, private construction companies ...

AJE

I mean customer in the sense of someone who is or isn't able to choose their provider

Since when could an individual choose their provider?

why can't state employees help choose who is in government?

Don't ask me! It's never been that way, and it never will be!

If you don't like that idea, you should really say so up front

I don't like that idea.

if people don't like the government in their area they can always leave

So I can legally cash in my assets, pay off my debts, and move to Somalia could I?

How empirically likely is it that anyone who gets income from the government will vote to disenfranchise themselves?

Why does likelihood matter? This was a post about constitutional theory, not policy forecasting.

benevolent omniscience

Cheers Jim... That's underhand and you can do better than that.

Hotels, stationary suppliers, phone companies, software companies, university staff, any independent providers to the BBC, thousands of housing associations and private landlords, private healthcare providers, private construction companies ...

Correct...

Joe Otten

How about the wives of civil servants? Should they be allowed to vote?

If so, they are probably the largest single voting group left after all working people with tenuous links to the state have been disenfranchised.

You almost need two currencies to implement the idea: taking this pound will disenfranchise you, taking that one won't. Then some bright spark will set up an exchange and we'll be back to square one.

The idea that you can say where a particular quantity of money comes from seems to rely on a dodgy reification of money.

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