Democracy, Parliament And The Market

Just a few thoughts on this topic, sparked by a comment on Twitter today…


Why parliamentary democracy? Why not participative democracy? Why not have electorate vote on every decision now we have technology to help?

Well how do you balance competing views? How do you stop everyone just instantly voting for more money for all and bankrupting the country?

How do you stop all in class A from getting their self-interest schemes funded by all in class B, as happens now?

Maybe only people paying tax can vote? Maybe they could have votes proportional to the amount they’re willing to pay in tax – one tax pound = one vote? A voluntary subscription? And it becomes truly participative. Then no vested interest group can tax another group, people only spend on schemes that they want and are prepared to contribute towards, in the proportion they want: they have to prioritise. And if they want to raise money now to spend against their future tax deposits, then why not? But it would have to be guaranteed with a mortgage against their assets to ensure they pay back the borrowed monies in the future. No one could borrow more than the assets they have (or the lender is willing to risk against those mortgageable assets).

Hang on, if we’re going to let our citizens spend their taxes on the projects they want to contribute towards then why bother having the intermediary of government? Why not let the people choose these services without tax, but directly? What a great idea? Let’s call it the market?

One thought on “Democracy, Parliament And The Market

  1. I agree to an extent with this. There is much to be said about more choice of where funding goes besides it being morally right. My first concern is that the top 10% pay vastly more in tax than the middle or bottom of the wealth scale. Under a model where the per-£ proportionalities influence the choice in spending, the influence at the top will be far greater than at the bottom. And I’d image they would care little about public education/health when they will never use the service. Also, what of people who are only residents and thus pay tax, but have no influence on spending? Or does anyone from anywhere who pays tax get to say how we should run services?

    Leaving things to the market is always desirable in my book, but mixed with our political system, it morphs from capitalism into corporatism, and that is where we now are. We have neither a functioning political system, nor a proper market.

    I think the problem is granularity of choice, in the ‘representitive’ system we have now, we get the choice of roughly spend a bit more, or spend a bit less. That takes no real account into where these funds should be directed, except in the broadest sense.

    There is no easy answer, but where we can get the bulk of spending decided on, say, county level with referenda every 2 years to set the level of spending (to which ultimately, they will have to fund) and rather more choice (granularity) of where the money goes i.e. fill pot holes or build cycle lanes etc or rail expansion etc, instead of ‘transport’.

    Referenda are a tool, every tool can be misused (i.e. postal voting), the trick is defining how they can be used in a sensible way that engages people.

    In an ideal world, your system is more desirable; in our current system it is impossible. One thing we can probably agree on is that we need to devolve power from the centre.

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