Thursday, 27 February 2014

Skin in the Game

I once posted that if you pay you should have your say - i.e. if you pay tax you should be able to vote (frequently). The counter argument to that is that many people are net takers of benefits, not net payers of tax, and that any increase in their voting power will lead to an increase in socialism and a redistribution of wealth from rich to poor. Yet Swiss direct democracy has resulted in the opposite. Why?
It could be a cultural thing. It could be caused by a quirk of history and the timing of events. Or it could be that voters want the best for their country because that is best for them. Because they have skin in the game. And they understand that taxing the rich excessively is likely to cause them to flee to more welcoming jurisdictions which will be a loss to all. Because the rich are more mobile and typically, as a proportion of their wealth, have less money tied up in fixed assets - they have less skin in the game. On the other hand, the average voter has more of their wealth tied up in their house, is less mobile and has more skin in the game. Thus they are often more committed to their country.
Yet in a representative system the wealthy can influence politics through their ability to fund political parties. The average voter has little say. Perhaps this imbalance leads to more income inequality.
This post was inspired by "Antifragile" by Nassim Taleb.

Thursday, 20 February 2014


There is no provision for a Recall Bill within this Parliament. "In the wake of the expenses scandal, all three mainstream parties pledged to include Recall." According to Zac Goldsmith MP's site. More broken promises! He continues to campaign for it and notes "Recall exists in many countries. Most often it involves allowing voters to run petitions, and where a threshold is reached, that triggers a Recall vote, or referendum on whether the MP should continue in his or her job. If a majority votes to recall their MP, then there is a by-election."
When interviewed on Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 Show (20/02/14) he said that arguments against direct democracy tend to be arguments against democracy its self. Something I tend to agree with: if the electorate can't be trusted to decide on issues then how can they be trusted to choose leaders? In many ways deciding on issues is easier. But there's still a role for politicians. I want both.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

London Sucks Wealth Out Of Britain

Aditya Chakrabortty wrote in The Guardian

"At the end of 2011, the IPPR North think tank totted up the government's transport projects until 2015. Londoners enjoyed public investment of £2731 per head; the northeast recieved just £5..... Of the 657 UK firms involved in public/private partnership deals, 75% operated out of London and the southeast between 2004 and 2012."
Reported in MoneyWeek 14/02/14.

It is no coincidence that London is the center of British politics and receives the benefits noted above. If political power was implemented through Interactive Democracy we could see a far more equitable distribution of investment, given that the majority live away from London.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Swiss Referendum v European Union

A recent Swiss referendum voted (by a slim 0.6%) to restrict immigration, which forces politicians to renegotiate their relationship with the European Union within three years. This is an interesting example of Direct Democracy impacting the EU's "democratic deficit".
For a list of Swiss referendums visit Wikipedia, by clicking here.