Federal Election: Universal Suffrage Should be Abolished in Australia

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Our coffee agent asked us this morning who we’d vote for if we could vote in Australia.

“No one.”

“But then you’d have to pay the fine.”

“That’s okay. Better to pay the fine and have a clean conscience than to vote and be an accessory to the coming fiscal crime.”

“Huh?”

“The way voting works today is a fraud. It’s just people voting themselves money.”

“But isn’t voting one of the responsibilities you have for living in a free society?”

“What good is a free society if you’re not even free to not vote without being fined?”

“Good point.”

“Look,” we wound up, “Mandating that everyone vote just means all the morons show up at the polls with no idea of who or what they’re voting for. You don’t get a better result. You get a worse result.”

“Besides,” we added, “what good is the exercise of power if no one is required to demonstrate they can exercise power responsibly, with the best interests of their neighbours and fellow citizens at heart? If everyone votes in order to get himself the most government handouts, you get a farce, not a mandate.”

“What do you mean? And hurry up. I’m going to have other customers.”

“If you drive, you’re required to have a license which shows you know the laws of the road and won’t endanger other drivers. Yet we encourage anyone to show up at the voting booth without any proof they know what they’re doing. We give them the power to elect people who will have control over every aspect of our free lives. How much sense does that make?

“You should only get to vote if you’ve earned the right to do it. And you earn the right to do it by demonstrating your commitment to your civil society through some form of sacrifice and service.”

The idea wasn’t ours, of course. It was Robert Heinlein’s in Starship Troopers. If you serve your society, you get to vote. You’re not required to serve. But if you don’t, you don’t vote. Heinlein figured that those who choose to defend the political society they come from – a free one – have a pretty good understanding of the value of freedom, having defended it against real enemies.

Plus, Heinlein figured there were certain virtues you’d learn in military service that might make you a better voter. You’d learn that the welfare of your unit (or the polity) means not always gratifying your own desires and instincts. It’s an interesting idea, that voting requires some virtue.

But no one would take that idea seriously today. It would be called discriminatory. And besides, it’s a lot easier to just vote in whomever promises to deliver you the most lucre.

Maybe Heinlein is wrong. Maybe he’s right. But we’re pretty sure universal suffrage is no guarantee of more freedom or better government.

In any event, it looks like the keys to the car will be turned over to Labor tomorrow. Let’s hope they don’t drive the economy into a ditch.

Dan Denning
The Daily Reckoning Australia

Dan Denning
Dan Denning examines the geopolitical and economic events that can affect your investments domestically. He raises the questions you need to answer, in order to survive financially in these turbulent times.
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Comments

  1. Hem hem Dan,

    Or to ease the concerns of the politically uncommitted or averse.

    Actually, all ‘we the people’ do is ask the punters to attend a polling station and get their names ticked off a list.

    What you do with the bits of paper is your business, but derogatory comments pencilled in about the poor true believers standing out front all day handing out voting fliers are hurtful ;-)

    MMLJ of Sydney
    November 23, 2007
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  2. Diversity is the key to having a Free but Responsible society.

    Homogeneity, no matter what form: Left, Right, or Centre, Rich, Poor or Middle Class is the world-improver’s creed and quickly leads to farce & disaster.

    It does not matter who wins this weekend, so long as the diversity of the political, economic & social system is repected & upheld. If it is not, then we merely continue to rhyme with history once again.

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  3. Will this blog endorse Australia’s only libertarian political party, the LDP?

    http://www.ldp.org.au

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  4. a fine for not voting ? what happened to prison for that offense. people need to take responsibility for having GOOD leaders.

    robert heinlein and mickey spillane were part of my early learning and having to have veterns vote with GUNS is not going to be a very good or succesful system.

    we don’t have a free society. because we have lost a sense of individual responsibilty.

    the lack of finacial responsibility and morality on wall street’s part has destroyed america. there is no social structure to save the people.

    the goverment and corporations are corrupt. we are on the verge of a military command economy and the ecology is at a breaking point.

    frankly i don’t give a damn. i have no children because i saw no future for them in amerika.

    viva l’ anarchie

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  5. When America was founded, the only people who could vote were males who owned land. Wasn’t ‘fair’ I suppose but it didn’t seem to hurt the nation.
    With any person over 18 years allowed to vote, and in Australia, compelled to attend the polling booth I have to agree that we have lost our way.

    The last two Federal elections have been auctions to buy our votes. The philosophy of Government is something not considered by voters nor politicians.

    I have to say however that I think that it will matter who wins. The credo of the Labour members of Parliament is that the collective is more important than the individual. Australia and the USA were founded upon the principal of individual responsibilty, self help and integrity.

    The philosophy of the Labour movement is essentially that of collective will and social responsibilty where the group is more important than the individual. The outworking of this idea is collective bargaining, compulsory union membership, and the hatred of those who hold to a different view.

    For example the recent Labour leader Mark Latham was reported to have said, “I’m a hater! You have to hate the Liberals.”

    While Kevin Rudd does not appear to be in this mould he has a convenient memory and the Party has been careful to keep their front bench very quiet during the campaign. The fact that 70% of their Members of Parliament are former union officials should alarm anyone with knowledge of the phiosophy of government. It is not what they used to do that is the problem really. It is what they BELIEVE that matters, because out of belief comes action.

    The actions that will follow will result in a few years with much higher unemployment, massive debt, regardless as to what Kevin 07 says, and I suspect, the removal of Mr Rudd in favour of Julia Gillard.

    Now that is something to really worry about.

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  6. I am convinced that only those who can read and write the English language in an appropriate manner should be elligible to vote.

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  7. There should be some sort of weighting by the amount of tax you pay. Maybe the second chamber should be elected that way.

    No taxation without representation – then no representation without taxation !

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  8. I’m glad Howard is gone. There is more to government than managing the economy. Stubborness was Howard’s virtue but its effect on the “spirit” of this country was stultifying. That may sound ephemeral waffle to some of you, but I think it is important.

    Howard appealed to baser latent racism when it suited him. He blindly followed Bush into Iraq (he allegedly urged Bush to invade whilst publically telling the Australian people the matter was still in debate), he blindly supported Bush as a global warming skeptic and helped sabotage Kyoto and waste 10 years on what is probably the biggest environmental but also economic challenge to humanity.

    He lied when convenient – the “children overboard” scandal being the worst.

    But Howard did some good things and managing the economic boom tied to China was probably not too hard. Whether Rudd can keep the economy on track through the growing global storm of inflation/credit crunch/possible peak oil is questionable. Then again I don’t think Howard would necessarily have done any better if China’s economy dips.

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  9. Talking to a friend of mine who is an auditor/accountant, they hilighted the fact that Australia’s economy is structured as such that it is very susceptible to minor variations in the global economy, or at least economies it trades with such as the US and China. If he is right then we are in for a rough ride no matter who is in power. Lets hope the incumbent at the wheel is a good pilot.

    Frank Grimes
    November 26, 2007
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  10. after reading various articles on this site anyone would have to realise that howard has done a poor job of managing the economy with the future in mind…major point being the loss of local manufacturing… “workchoices” was phase 1 of a blatant push to remove minimum wage and reduce the working conditions of workers….eventual goal of workchoices was/is unlimited immigration of cheap labour from china/india to serve the ruling class elite and the destruction of working class australians…class war (yes its not only a labor thing)

    howard was a racist liar also.

    as for voting everyone who wants to should be able to vote if they want to…i dont care if its compulsary or not….but definately no rules about land ownership or income should apply

    chris barrow
    November 29, 2007
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  11. Have o agree with the article – at first glance it seems like over-simpifying a vastly complicated issue, but I’m starting to think it isn’t as complicated as it seems.

    Reply

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