The franchise and the career unemployed

As we have been talking about chavs, it’s interesting to note that there are around 3m unemployed in Britain – out of a total population of 60m. Some of them are so unemployed that they have never actually had a job in their lives. But the 3m figure is deceptive, because there are other categories of welfare dependency – one of them, getting oneself classified as “disabled”. I don’t have the figures, but there are tens of thousands on disability “benefit” the socialist, non-judgemental term for passengers. This is different from unemployment benefit. Every once in a while there will be a story of someone on “disability” benefit for years whose hobby is riding mountain bikes on the weekends. Another one, a soccer fan, has been photographed refereeing soccer matches. That’s just the stupid ones, though. Then there is “family benefit” for each child born.

Then there’s publicly-funded accommodation – the projects, in Americanese – which gets more spacious with each new child. There are five- and six-children fatherless “families” living in four bedroom homes, paid for by the local taxpayers. Single mothers in these enclaves refer to two children born from the same father as “the twins”. The more responsible mothers in these areas walk their children to school, although they don’t change out of their pajamas and robes to do so. These people have a vote.

Unlike in the more pragmatic United States, welfare recipients are not given food stamps, but actual money. This is spent on cigarettes, beer and various cans of sweet, ready-mixed cocktails, lottery tickets, food that doesn’t require a knife and fork, and plasma screen wall TVs. New fathers and “uncles” drift through. A year ago, one single welfare-dependent mother with her six fatherless children and new “partner” all flew to Goa (“as present to myself”).

It flies in the face of natural justice that, in national or local elections, the non-productive and parasitical should be able to vote themselves a raise out of the pockets of the productive.

I propose that anyone who has been on welfare for six months or more be disenfranchised until they become a wealth-producing member of society. They are a constituency unto themselves and, in some areas of Britain – and probably in the United States and certainly Canada – can outvote taxpayers, and candidates are mindful of this.

It beggars belief that someone who drives to the supermarket at 1 a.m. to stack shelves through the night, or someone who spends their working life asking “Would you like fries with that?” or someone who risks his life rescuing people from burning buildings, or who stands on a train platform at 6 a.m. in an icy wind waiting for the train into work, or lives three weeks out of a month on an oil rig, or nurses cancer patients should share their earned franchise with the parasites.

It is true that in Britain, the parasite class doesn’t bother much with national elections for some reason – although national politicians continue to kowtow to them. But in local elections, the unemployed, those on disability and a host of other programmes, can swing the election and get councillors who will cater to them into office. (I’m not saying they’re intelligent enough to organize this intentionally.)

In today’s computer age, people could be removed from the electoral rolls at the click of a key, and, once employed, their vote could be restored by the click of a key.

Once they are off the electoral rolls, politicians will cease to cater to them.

By the way, I wouldn’t include old age pensioners in the franchise. And there would be a grace period for people who had become unemployed and were actively seeking work. One man, one vote was fine for the days when one man was responsible for himself.

42 thoughts on “The franchise and the career unemployed”

  1. With respect, David Foster, I cannot understand the point of your question. Wealthy people put money into circulation. They’re not a drain on money earned by others.

  2. Poor people are not voting their own largess. The major dynamic is the non-poor voting for programs they believe will help without actually taking the time to study what works and what does not. This is why we end up with programs that a naive 12 year old would come up with.

  3. Joe, I would have to answer yes.

    Having the ability to force others to give you some of their property is either theft or slavery. The vote has the power of the gun backing it.

    California’s teacher and other public service unions are a perfect example of what can happen. We effectively pay them to enslave us and to promote (through union campaign donations) how good it is of us to do that through the education system and media advertising. A tidy spiral of increasing slavery.

    We have to get away from words like “socialism” and “compassion” and call this what it is – slavery and theft (ongoing vs. one time).

  4. Nice to see this idea coming up more frequently. Tax-provided benefits and universal suffrage is a “positive feedback” system. The fate of such systems is to become unstable and self-destruct: eg, an ever increasing block of parasites vote themselves benefits from an ever shrinking block of producers. Introducing “negative feedback” whereby an increase in the number of parasites weakens their political hand vis a vis the producer side is pretty much the only way to solve the problem.

    The economist John Lott has shown that the growth of the Federal government took off because …. women were given the vote. Universal suffrage is over-rated.

  5. Except how many “public-servants” are in approved occupations? Firefighters? Policemen? Soldiers? All of these are paid for by the public. Should they be denied the franchise?

    Let’s take it a step farther. How about companies that are almost entirely tax-payer funded. Rand? Defense contractors (say Lockheed-Martin?) Should people working there be denied the franchise because their jobs are funded by the government?

    Do note that there is a contradiction in the original post, which claimed “someone who risks his life rescuing people from burning buildings” (a.k.a. a fireman, typically paid by taxes) should get the vote….

  6. “Should public servants also be disenfranchised?”

    As long as they’re unionized wards of the politicians, yes. Once they have returned to the status of independent workers negotiating their own salaries and risking discharge for incompetence or laziness, then of course they should have the franchise.

  7. Craig –

    So you don’t think policemen should get to vote?

    How about members of the armed forces, who can’t really be fired during their enlistment contracts? Should they get the vote?

    I don’t know off-hand how often Firemen are unionized…

  8. Verity…I thought you were arguing that only people who do economically productive work are deserving of the franchise…indeed, only people who *currently* do economically productive work, since you said you would not include old age pensioners in the franchise…thereby excluding people who might have worked very hard and very productively for fifty years.

    Although I understand the dangers of people voting themselves increased benefits, I think it’s dangerous to mess around with the franchise. I’m sure there are “progressives” who would like to limit it to people with advanced degrees, for example. Better to simply keep the benefits programs reasonable in the first place.

  9. David Foster writes: “Although I understand the dangers of people voting themselves increased benefits, I think it’s dangerous to mess around with the franchise.”

    And I would argue that it’s dangerous not to “mess around” with it.

    The wealth-producers cannot long withstand the demands of the parasites unless there are boundaries determined by the wealth producers. Otherwise, the bullying will continue.

    We have travelled beyond a universal franchise. A universal franchise was delivered at a time when people were responsible for themselves and, by extension, their communities. This was 200 years ago.

    I propose that this must now change.

    I tried to keep the two issues (welfare and public sector) separate, because there are special functions attached to the public sector.

    As in, for example, diplomats, who do indeed, if they’re effective, contribute to the wealth of a nation. This is a different issue, though and I would like to address it separately.

  10. I said at the outset that some public servants, like the firefighters, police and the military, and the world of foreign service, should not be included in this discussion.

    These are totally different issues I wanted to address them later.

    My point was, the passengers who contribute nothing – the parasites – should be required to alight from the voting train.

  11. In the US, dienfranchising poor people will samck too much of the Jim Crow poll taxes to ever be acceptable, notwithsatnding the good arguments for what Verity suggests.

    As for public servants, I disagree (being one, myself), but suggest that the biggest aspect of that problem was when public employees were given virtually full collective bargaining rights under the NLRA, by executive order of JFK, followed quickly by most states. The kinds of problems you are reacting to with government seeming to serve itself rather than the public almost all derive from that change and that would be the place to start.

    Would a municipal employee get to vote for State or Federal offices but not for alderman?

    What about employees and officers of non-profits that receive a lot of grants, like colleges and hospitals? Is a professopr at a State university or community college a public employee? (rhetorical question, of course they are)

    What about employees of major contractors? Why should an employee of Lockheed get to vote for a Congressman who will vote on defense appropriation bills?

    Where do you draw the line? I suggest you start with unionization.

    Not that that’ll happen, either.

  12. Verity, sorry to anticipate, but perhaps this is useful input into the next post on the subject. Really, should any ‘public servants’ be excluded from disenfranchisement?

    To be consistent, no. Your welfare comes from the government? Sorry, you don’t get to choose the government. End of story.

    Just from a purely pragmatic political point of view, you’re going to ask the left leaning office-bound public servants to give up their vote while the right leaning armed forces/police/firefighters do not? Zero chance. The only (slight) political chance this idea has would be to trade off the votes of the right leaning public servants against the left leaning ones. OK, you lose your guys, and we lose our guys. Fair trade.

    Again, a political franchise can only work in the long term when the system has within it negative feedback. This means that government workers, no matter if they produce good stuff (eg safety and national defense) must be excluded.

    It is not a matter of “those who contribute get to vote”. It’s “who pays the piper calls the tune”. The tax payers vote, the tax absorbers don’t.

    Again, universal franchise is over-rated. Ask the people of Hong Kong.

  13. I had come up with a variant of this idea — that I was planning to use in a science fiction story (should I ever get off my figurative butt and write it). Your vote is equivalent to the amount of taxes you pay. I know, it’s explicitly a poll tax and thus unconstitutional in the US.

  14. In one of Nevil Schute’s futuristic novels (In the Wet) there was a proposal for dealing with this sort of thing – a schedule of multiple votes per citizen. There was. IIRC, a basic vote, which everyone had. There was another vote for maintaining a long-term marriage (which the spouses split when it came to exercising) there was a vote earned for having lived or served in a foreign country for two years, a vote earned for having built a business up to a certain level of earnings, and a couple of other votes earned by various qualifications. The general purpose was to ensure that the electorate would be weighted in favor of those who were responsible and productive members of society. Something to think about, at any rate.

  15. Sgt Mom – My father was much attracted to Nevil Shute’s idea, but it is, in practical terms, too fiddley and doesn’t give any credit to ordinary people who are gainfully employed and have held onto their jobs and paid their bills and taxes all their adult lives. I personally don’t find it attractive. It may have been OK for when it was first mooted – around the Fifties, I think, after WWII – but is unfair to people who reliably plodded to work every day, raised their children responsibly and paid their bills and their taxes, which is all one can ask of a citizen. Why should someone with academic qualifications have a vote advantage over such worthiness?

    I’ve never liked Shute’s notion, although I get the point and, indeed, he may have anticipated today’s horrendously unfair set-up where the ants are at the mercy of the grasshoppers.

  16. All of the Western “democracies” with the possible exception of Switzerland are in the process of falling into the abyss. The Euros have ceded their sovereignty to the vile, un-accountable EU. Dis-enfranchising the parasites is just the first step to ending a process of which the penultimate stage is you look like Argentina.The final stage you don’t even want to imagine. Our political class is getting progresssively more impudent as they discover what they can get away with, the more entrenched they become with the help of the MSM. Reminds me of “Lord of the Flies”.The political class needs adult supervision,now.

    The fact that present political arrangements are being questioned is the only good development now. What we have now is three coyotes and two sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

    Let me recommend Mancur Olson “The Rise and Decline of Nations”

  17. Brett_McS writes: “you’re going to ask the left leaning office-bound public servants to give up their vote while the right leaning armed forces/police/firefighters do not? Zero chance.”

    No. Where did I write such nonsense?

    I have already noted that I will be addressing the public sector in a different thread. I have already said above that the public sector has to be tackled separately from the welfare sector because it is more complex. Therefore, there is little point in arguing against what you anticipate I might write.

    Regarding the point of this thread, I proposed that the passengers not be privileged to dictate the destination nor the speed of travel. Once they’re gainfully employed, if ever, their voting rights would be restored at the click of a computer key.

  18. Sorry, but I am violently allergic to any plan that involves restricting the franchise. I am astonished to see it being discussed here in apparent seriousness. This is nonsense of the sort we usually hear from the left: that this or that crisis of the moment (currently AGW) is too important to be subject to the delays, compromises, and inertia of democracy. If the underlying issue is concentration of power, then deal with it in those terms.

  19. A universal franchise was delivered at a time when people were responsible for themselves and, by extension, their communities. This was 200 years ago.

    It was promised, but 100 years ago at least 60% of todays voters would have been disenfranchised. Universal suffrage was fully delivered less than 50 years ago.

    What we are seeing today is the inevitable result of the rapid expansion of the franchise to populations that then make significant demands for government services, women and the poorer in the last century. It is no surprise that the New Deal and Great Society follow the expansion of the franchise to new groups they serve. As a result, a new class of slaves to the more and more powerful government is created to support the governements’ theft of power from the producers.

    Nonetheless, I agree with Mitch. Unless the solution is to use wealth, land and real property, as the sole basis for taxation and the proportionate franchise.

  20. Electoral politics and the universal franchise make for a poisonous brew and the proof will be that those polities undergo serious regime change down the road; unfortunately the change may not be for the better. Chile was lucky-someone did what had to be done and then stepped down.Well he didn’t limit the franchise,but he did leave things much better. That is not change one can rely on. One is more likely to end up with a Mugabe or a Chavez.
    Most people are not particularly honest,are certainly not informed and have negligible analytical ability. When I ask how they can be expected to pick honest and wise people to govern them I never get an answer. Even with a high quality electorate you still have a problem of rational ignorance.

    The big problem is having an entrenched political class.Politicians are to governance what prostitutes are to love.Here the Supreme Court did much damage by not permitting term limits on Congress. States which have citizen legislators who are in session only a few months a year do much better.
    Our rulers have to be accountable and what we have doesn’t do the job.This will not go away.

  21. When I ask how they can be expected to pick honest and wise people to govern them I never get an answer.

    The goal of universal franchise is not to pick honest and wise people. It is to gain legitimacy for the government. How can a government gain control over people who have no say in creating its laws? Gradually, the grant of universal franchise gives formerly limited government full legitimacy to do whatever it wants to some or all of what have become its subjects instead of its masters.

    The founders recognized this problem. They solved it elegantly by, among other mechanisms, a federal of dual sovereignty, limited delegation of powers, devolving the question of the franchise, having the Senate elected by the state legislatures and least successfully by the Electoral College. The one thing they did not want to create was a democracy.

    Small d democrats have pushed the system further and further away from the founders explicit balance of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy to full democracy. One man one vote, established as law by the supreme court in Baker v Carr is one of the most unnoticed but egregious examples of this destructive tendency.

    Such an unbalanced system will not endure including a system devoid of any democratic components such as the current EU. The founders knew it and we are living it. This is the problem Mitch has to reconcile with his allergic reaction. I am sympathetic. But the ostrich method we have been pursuing will not yield a satisfactory solution.

  22. Mrs. Davis – thank you. That was beautifully clear.

    Mob rule does not lead to thoughtful rule and they knewe that. The checks of a republic were an acknowledgement of that. What would be especially useful would be if those checks gave legislators a broader and longer horizon. We have seen in these bills a flurry in which no one seems to know what to do, so, instead of pausing and thinking them through, they produce messy legislation. Responsibility for future generations is always somewhat at odds with the desires of the immediate ones (when we talk about the control of factions the example I always like to give is generational because it is eternal).

  23. Mrs Davis, Thank you for your post.

    In a sense, in Britain, we have the opposite problem, which is that we had a system of law that had been accreted over many centuries, whereas your governance was by design and is more secure from interference. Ours has been handed over to the sickeningly undemocratic EU – routinely referred in Britain to as the EUSSR. And the cunning, malign Tony Blair appears to be set to become the EU’s first (unelected, ça va sans dire) president.

    But both our countries now suffer a tranche of our citizenry that believes it is entitled to a slice of the wealth created by others. They are able to help themselves to our money by voting for the politician who will cater to them.

    I have not been persuaded otherwise by any of the interesting posts above, though. I still think the only way to control the damage is to disenfranchise them until they become conributors. Other than initial flurries of “I have my rights!”, I don’t believe the move to remove the vote from them – other than squeals from the self-serving advocacy groups – would last long. The franchise isn’t as important as next Saturday’s afternoon’s football match, after all, and the weekly Saturday night lottery draw on which they will have spent considerable amounts of their free money to buy tickets.

  24. Verity wrote: “Brett_McS writes: “you’re going to ask the left leaning office-bound public servants to give up their vote while the right leaning armed forces/police/firefighters do not? Zero chance.”

    No. Where did I write such nonsense?”

    Sorry, of course you didn’t. I was anticipating one possible approach. Look forward to the next post on the subject.

  25. Just as a counterpoint to the direction of the above discussion, we should note that the Obama administration, via the likes of Acorn, is going in the exact opposite direction: Enfranchising people who live on park benches, and making it easier to vote than watch next Saturday’s football match.

  26. While acknowledging that what Verity mentions may be a problem, it is not the only one of that nature. Anyone who benefits directly from the government has a conflict of interest while voting — those who are paid by it directly, those who are paid indirectly (contractors), and those whose business depends directly on its policies (lawyers), or even indirectly on its policies (everyone else). I’ve even heard some folks argue that, for example, Christians should not vote based on preferences driven by religious belief, because as a majority they have the power to lay down religious law that others don’t want.

    There are a lot of genuine threats of that nature. It’s not a problem with any particular class of people. It’s a flaw in democracy. Speaking in the abstract, when two wolves and a sheep are voting on what to have for lunch, the answer is not to try and disenfranchise the wolves–you can’t trust the sheep acting alone to pick something wolves could digest–but to require unanimity instead of majority. Treat votes as a veto, granting voters the power to avoid oppression, not as a license to mob rule. Nothing will get done for a long time, but eventually they’ll get hungry enough to agree to something, and nobody will get eaten.

    I’m not sure how that would look in the real world, on this topic. But I do know that mucking about with the franchise is very dangerous. There are many, many groups you could argue are capable of oppressing the others if they vote in bloc, who could vote for very dangerous things. Taking away their votes invites others to oppress them in turn, though, and is a train of reasoning that’s going to go nowhere good!

  27. You’re both very welcome. But credit for any clarity on my part is probably a result of having just completed Gardiner’s History of the Great Civil War and beginning the History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate. The discussion of essentially the same topics Verity has raised by Gardiner in relation to the Army’s dealings with Parliament, the Levelers, Ranters and Diggers has made me think how little the challenges we face have changed, nothing new under the Sun, and how well our founders dealt with them at a magical moment in history.

    That, and having lived in California from 1980 to 2005, through its descent into unconstrained demagogic democracy, have made me give a great deal of thought to the matters that concern Verity. While Verity may doubt that an unclear they are intelligent enough to organize the collective action of government dependents intentionally to elect sympathetic local council members, the example of California noted by Alan demonstrates that in the US they most certainly are. And such an outcome is inevitable in any system which becomes excessively tilted in the direction of democracy just as other but similar evils attend excessively monarchic or oligarchic governments.

    At least we’ve got hope and change coming.

  28. Dove writes: “I’ve even heard some folks argue that, for example, Christians should not vote based on preferences driven by religious belief, because as a majority they have the power to lay down religious law that others don’t want.”

    Rubbish. You’ve been parachuted onto this site by people who have failed to understand the discussion.

  29. >i>While Verity may doubt that an unclear they are intelligent enough to organize the collective action of government dependents intentionally to elect sympathetic local council members … No, indeed, Mrs Davis. That is my whole argument.

  30. This is appalling. We may agree that the government should not be in the business of buying Peter’s vote with Paul’s money, but taking the vote from Peter is not the answer. Do you intend to somehow persuade Peter, or will you be imposing your decision regardless? When did we start believing in class warfare?

    I am not prepared for an instant to restrict the rights and liberties of some of my fellow citizens so as to make a majority for my interests out of the remainder. If you don’t believe in democracy when the election results go the other way, then you don’t believe at all. This topic came up in 1861, and most of us consider it to have been settled some four years later.

  31. Do you intend to somehow persuade Peter, or will you be imposing your decision regardless?

    By persuasion, do you mean what the IRS does at the point of a gun? Because that is how the money is taken from those who produce and given to those on whom the government showers its largesse.

    When did we start believing in class warfare?

    I’m torn. 1912 or 1932? Hard to decide. I’m not sure it was inevitable after 1912, so I come down on 1932 myself.

    I am not prepared for an instant to restrict the rights and liberties of some of my fellow citizens so as to make a majority for my interests out of the remainder.

    So you’re not a teacher, prison guard, welfare recipient, or other entitlements recipient. Prepare to be in the minority.

    If you don’t believe in democracy when the election results go the other way, then you don’t believe at all.

    I simply don’t believe in democracy as the best form of government regardless of election results, as the founders did not. A balanced form is far superior.

    This topic came up in 1861, and most of us consider it to have been settled some four years later.

    Not really. 1861 was about dissolving the union and abolishing slavery, not instituting an unbalanced form of government. That’s why the XVI, XVII, and XIX Amendment had to be passed, not to mention the alphabet soups of the New Deal, Fair Deal, Great Society and New, New Deal. They have seriously unbalanced the government we were given with detrimental effect on the longer term prospects of the republic as a whole.

    Remember Franklin’s words upon being asked what form of government the Constitutional Convention had delivered; “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Not a democracy. Think, don’t jerk your knee. It’s not an easy problem, but it’s one worth considering.

  32. It’s just like signing any employment contract, only when the employer is the government one of the employment conditions is you can’t vote in elections for that government. It’s a sensible precaution against the abuses verity raises in this post, and is completely voluntary; if you want to retain your vote don’t work for the government.

  33. The wealthy you always have with you. The question is: Do they get wealthy through their political connections,or do they gain it by producing what the public will buy of their own free will?
    What kind of answer does your vote give under the present regime?

  34. The best answer to the larger question is along the lines of what the Founders originally intended–a very restricted government. The idea of the national government, or even the states, subsidizing lifestyles beyond subsistence (and that, not at the national level) would have struck them as bizarre. Hell, for the first 50 years they argued about whether the national govt could even build a road or canal in the territory of a sovereign state, even to connect to another state or territory.

    The New Deal pretty much did away with all that. Per Amity Schlaes (The Forgotten Man) it was really the 1936 election where appeals to personal greed rather than some notion of common good became legitimate. People and groups had always voted their interest, but previously had tried to argue that their interest was also the interest of the nation as a whole (tariff policy, silver money, etc.). Starting around 1936, it became more naked greed and redistributionist, rather than arguing (maybe fallaciously or even disingenuously, but still) that the greater good was being served.

  35. Marty, agreed. It’s how to get back to small government that is the question. Enfranchisement of everyone and his crazy uncle (actually, of women, but we don’t need to push that point too far) has been the major impetus behind government expansion, so it seems a sensible target. The question is: without reducing the franchise can we get back to small government at all?

  36. verity,

    May 13, 2005 – Dove is featured in a Chicago Boyz Quote of the Day.

    You, sir, owe my wife an apology for your laughable claim that she was “parachuted” onto this site. (If memory serves me correctly, we’ve been here longer than you; the oldest comment I can find from you is dated Nov 23, 2005.)

    You also owe it to the Chicago Boyz community, and to my wife, to make a serious attempt to respond to her serious criticisms, rather than simply dismissing her out of hand because you misunderstood her.

    The fact is, her criticism is valid. Democracy is subject to the unfortunate problem that the majority can overrule the minority — whether it’s people on welfare or government employees voting themselves a raise, or religious people voting for laws that make others follow some tenet of their religion, or people who don’t want nuclear waste dumped in their area voting to dump it on Nevada, or whatever. Your proposed solution to one variant of this problem (welfare) is to simply remove the franchise. This is a poor solution, and the sort of crap I expect from leftists (some of which actually HAVE argued that Christians shouldn’t be allowed vote!), not from Chicago Boyz authors.

  37. Dove – Your comment was posted on the first, or welfare, segment of my two posts, which is about the career unemployed in the US and Britain.

    It was off topic and I concluded that your comments, especially those about the American religious right, which has nothing to do with the career unemployed (that I know of), might be those of some coterie with an agenda.

    Of course “mucking about with the franchise” is dangerous. So was deciding to go into Iraq. It being dangerous in execution is not a reason not to discuss it.

    I cannot agree with your final paragraph in which you appear to want to embargo discussion of solutions to large scale problems because “that’s going to go nowhere good”.

    How do you know?

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