On what basis should democracy work in order to be fair and deliver good decisions?


I have given this some consideration, indeed I first came up with this idea travelling back from Poznań to Warsaw some twenty years ago in the car with the late Sir Peter Kemp, if you will forgive the much dropping of name.  He vehemently disagreed with me, but I have found in due course of time that I certainly do agree with myself.

The best way of all would be to give people a vote between 1.0 and 2.0, where everyone gets the 1.0 for having a soul and being a person, and the proportion of the second possible 1.0 is determined by which percentile of taxpayer you are, adjusted for awards for charity work or other merits, because it’s not all about money, it’s also about effort. So for example the average person would have a voting value of 1.5, Lord Billiam Nandnor, Elox Mustang, or Jess Bezamemucho, or whatever their names are, would give 2.0 apiece, and someone who simply scrounged off the dole and drink herself silly every day under a tree would still get 1.0 to acknowledge that there, but for the grace of God, go all of us.

It’s not a huge distinction, to give twice as much say per person to the hard hitters of an economy than to the drains on resources, but it would be at least something with the potential to improve the decisions now being made. Which is, of course, not saying much. But can we really believe that Gates, Musk et al are really as many multiples wiser than the poor as their income disparity might tempt us to believe? Probably not. Probably these success stories of humans have their weak areas and even some people with no incomes may be very clever indeed. Hence a bigger different than double between the greatest and least of us would be unfair and invidious.  At the same time, it is a nice way to thank people for paying more taxes than average to allow them a bit more tune-calling and to set the voting algorithm so that they get it. This is only human – if someone invites us to a feast and they are paying, is it fair to complain that they are the ones who set the menu?

To put a lot into society and have no more say than someone who puts the minimum in, or worse, seems unfair to me. Sir Peter countered, channeling Churchill, that democracy was an awful system until you compare it with all the others. He thought that despite having different gifts and different levels of effort we have to assume our fellow men and women are all our equals, and that an assumption to the contrary was not only unworkable technically (this was a good twenty years ago and then he may well have been correct on that matter) but also morally reprehensible. The attempts of this erstwhile formidable mandarin of the civil service and ally of the Iron Lady to make me a bit more human and democratic whiled away a good part of that journey and are an enduring fond memory.

For sure I accept that we are all equal in the sight of God. But I don’t accept that we all have equally valid opinions or that the quality of decisions made by people who have no “skin in the game” (I assume Twister is the game the person who devised this saying had in mind) So this idea blends having one “soul vote” (for the avoidance of doubt, gingers would be deemed for this purpose to have souls) with the “no tax’n w/o rep’n” idea. It’s a kind of compromise which means every one can whine but because everyone is whining we know it’s kinda fair. Maybe it would improve the quality of decisions made by the electorate, also.

A person living in a different country could also split their soul vote to their country of oranges and put the tax part of the vote into the country where they are currently sitting like a lemon. But they wouldn’t be allowed to switch it back and forth like a yo-yo, even though in theory the soul can travel at speeds higher than C, 300,000,000 metres per second, which is a good deal faster than any existing yo-yo. Now wouldn’t that be better than the current system, whereby I am denied a vote in the UK because of not being there despite listening to the PM program most days, and also not allowed to vote in Poland because only citizens can vote for president and parliament, and even local elections I was immediately disbarred from from 31st January because the UK is leaving the EU. In order to even be a stakeholder in democracy, which I currently am not, and not by choice, I have to adapt my identity. Everyone else’s identity is sacrosanct, mine apparently not. I am not entitled to have any say at all on how my taxes are spent, but I pay more tax than the average person who does have a say.

So my idea could only be an improvement to democracy and very far from the illiberal and undemocratic system which John Major’s nemesis told me it was.

Your views on the idea profile of democracy are welcome in the comments below.

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