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Re: Removing Tyranny from Democracy (Part II), was Democracy is the true enemy...
On Sun, 7 Sep 1997, Steve Schear wrote:
> Many, beginning with de Toquivelle, have noted that democracy brings with
> it the unhappy possibility of a tyranny of the majority. The reasons for
> this shortcoming are closely tied to the decision of whom within the
> democracy receives the franchise and how in a representative democracy
> officeholders are elected.
I don't think it is so much of the franchise as to the problem of whoever
the enfranchised are voting themselves largess at the public trough (also
noting how few of the franchised actually exercise the right today). If
no one would consider voting for subsidies, the country is safe. As soon
as the first subsidy is passed, a mob will form to lobby for a similar one
to benefit them. This will occur even if the enfranchised group is small
- absolute power corrupts absolutely, even when it is every citizen who
can wield it, or an oligarchy.
Moreover, property ownership does not make for any better selection except
that it is probable that one of your ancestors had to acquire wealth.
Then the property owners simply vote to prevent transfer of property or
some other means of freezing the franchise, and can still cause all the
problems of tyranny.
It would be preferable that everyone wanting to vote have to pass a test
which had as a major component the fate of all democracies that use
majority power to destroy minority rights and to vote themselves
subsidies. At this point, the democratic right to commit societial
suicide at least becomes an informed decision.
Democracy is as tyrannical as any other system if rights aren't respected.
In those cases where limited government might have to make a decision
concerning all, and there is time to debate the issue, democracy (either
representative or direct) is the most just method.
> The darkest warnings of democracy's critics are being furfilled, precisely
> because of entitlement programs that already exist, which are driving the
> federal government into an abyss of debt. Touching the big entitlement
> programs - the ones available to the middle class - is "political suicide."
You should finish the story (or is there a Part III coming out)...
Democracies bankrupt themselves because this voting of largess eventually
turns into a pyramid scheme that collapses when there is no one left
creating wealth, only those trying to redistribute it. After wealth can
no longer be distributed, the attempt is made to transfer more power to
government (because they can't believe that the reason for the problem is
their own greed - it must be the Jews, Corporations, Immigrants, Right
Wing Radicals, Gold Hoarders - pick your favorite group).
And we end up back with a tyranny - from a totalitarian democracy, to a
dictatorship when everything breaks down.
All it will take is one stock market crash (read: correction that restores
dividend yields and price-to-book values to historic normalcy) - and the
following recession to bankrupt the pay-as-you-go government (watch for
20%+ interest rates on government securities during a deflation!). The
unemployed riot demanding something other than scrip and seinors refuse to
pay taxes unless their social security is in cash - volia, we have
marshall law. Remember what Roosevelt got away with before the current
method of expressing displeasure - burning your city to the ground -
Probably before the congress is through investigating the campaign
irregularities in the 1996 elections.
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