Monday, 18 March 2013

Electorate Votes Itself Endless Privileges

"Perhaps we have reached the limit of what is economically possible within a democracy. Now that the electorate has twigged that it can vote itself endless privileges, our leaders seem determined to feed the beast, even when the larder is bare. The younger generation is going to hate us."
This quote from Tim Price in MoneyWeek (15/03/13) neatly sums up a concern voiced by others. And, so the thought goes, giving more power to the economically illiterate electorate via direct democracy will result in financial armegedon.
Swiss direct democracy succinctly proves that is not necessarily so. In fact their economy is in far better shape than those of most western representative democracies. While the reasons for this may be multifactorial, perhaps one cause of Switzerland's success is that direct democracy educates the masses through debate, resulting in more mature politics and better decisions.
But another perspective is that politicians in a representative democracy actively persuade us that the "bribes" they offer in return for our support are affordable, against the better judgement of the majority of voters who successfully manage the complexities of their household budget and carefully consider the inheritence they would like to bequeath to their offspring. From this perspective politicans are dangerous stewards of the economy, driven to error by the competitive nature of representative democracy.
Or perhaps political ideologies are to blame: those notions counted self evident and held firmly by the party faithful. On the contrary, voters less immersed in political doctrine and informed by wide debate, may take a more realistic and less idealistic view.

1 comment:

Shaun Beaumont said...

Hi Andy,

Mate, do you know about Finland's new Citizens Initiative? it is rather incredible and is exactly what our Interactive democracy website proposes!! You have to read this post on WLP:

Just copy/paste the url above into the web address bar.