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Re: Removing Tyranny from Democracy (Part II), was Democracy is the true enemy...

On Mon, 8 Sep 1997, Vladimir Z. Nuri wrote:

> our elections are also corrupted by the fact that voters are not
> expending any significant effort to decide whom to vote for. they
> watch tv, and if an advertisement pushes their buttons in the right
> way, it affects their vote.

After the current elections, we ended up with a more complex tax code, a
new entitlement, more budget sophistry, increased spending, less
soverignity, etc.

Assuming a 50 member difference in the house either way (and a similar
proportion in the Senate, or Beltway Bob instead of Beltway Bill), would
any of these things be substantially different?

And those that expended effort in things like ballot initiatives only saw
them overturned by the courts.

I can expend all the effort I want, but nothing will change.  Most people
have figured this out and don't bother voting.  The ones who do vote
simply vote for the one who promises them the most visible subsidy since
for little effort, they might get a benefit.

The corruption derives exclusively from the ability of government to
redistribute wealth.  As soon as it does this to any degree, the logical
thing to expend effort on is getting a greater share of the transfer.

If I vote to deny myself, everyone else gets the benefit.

You might disagree with the results, but I think greed, sloth, and
corruption are perfectly representative of those who vote - democracy
still works in that way.

> the public needs to eventually learn that for every dollar they send
> to washington, they get only a fraction back, no matter how lucrative
> their own pork. the problem with our
> politics is that voters have not realized that they are almost always
> cheating themselves when they try to cheat their neighbors. it's a shell
> game that they keep playing as long as they think someone else is paying.

David Freedman described this perfectly (my paraphrase from memory):

100 people sit around the table with 100 pennies each.  Someone starts
with the first and takes a single penny from each and dumps 50 back at the
first person.  This process is repeated for each person.  Everyone ends up
with half the wealth, but are happy because the 50 cents in bulk is easier
to spot than the single pennies being removed.

Except for Harry Browne who asked would you give up your favorite subsidy
if it meant you never had to pay taxes again, the tax cuts are separated
from the subsidies.  If the recipient lobbys for the subsidy, he gets
$500, but if I get it cut, I may save $0.50.  A few beneficiaries will do
whatever it takes because it is many times more important to them to have
the subsidy than the millions who would have to pay more for postage or
the phone call to oppose it than they do in taxes for that one program. 

You learn that it costs far more to prevent spending than to lobby for
your own share.  It is not a problem with politics, but with any system
that has concentrated benefits but dispersed costs.

[and that is why the internet is such a threat to our current way of doing
things - it disperses everything making it impossible to concentrate
benefits - routing around political subsidies as it does everything else.]

With tax rates going up (a concentrated cost), the money is coming from
the unborn generations who will have to pay back the principle on the long
term debt.  They don't vote - and when they do it will be too late to do
anything about it - which may be now. 

> I don't believe there are intrinsic flaws in democracy, so much as
> there are intrinsic flaws in *human*nature* that are coming to light
> after decades. government is a reflection of our human natures.
> one cannot really expect a government to correct the flaws of its
> users, any more than software could do the same.

But then the question is whether democracy (which needs more definition) 
is the best system to compensate for the flaws.  For example: Markets turn
selfishness to utility.  What virtue is promoted or vice limited or
converted by democracy per se?

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