Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why shouldn't "leeches" vote?

For long I've been suggesting that leeches should not be allowed to vote. They should be legally treated equal to children: having personal rights but no political ones. This idea is widely questioned and not just by moralists who come with nonsense like "people are equal just because".

There is a quick and dirty way to "prove" my statement. Many people agree that there are people who are too "dumb" or "immoral" to vote. However any kind of restriction could be abused by the ones in power to lock out their opposition. The "leeches can't vote" is the only non-abusable criteria, as you can only lock someone out by making him not pay tax, weakening the budget of your own government. Assuming that your opposition is not tiny (which case there is no need to lock them out), you decrease the tax income so much that your dictatorship goes bankrupt.

However I want to prove that it's not just a "necessary evil", which can be claimed to defend the "all can vote" system too. To do this I have to prove is that the leech vs "pulling his weight" is a crucial criteria itself and not a derivative or correlated one. I mean I can't say "leeches are dumb", regardless of its truth because then I want to actually remove the "dumb" from the voting and there can be much better ways to find a dumb one than his tax form. Also I have to prove that a taxpaying person permanently losing his income (via old age, disablement or simply long-term unemployment) loses his ability to make an informed political decision.

One votes for his (assumed) interest or according to his beliefs of morality. We can cut the morality voting out of the question as being pro life or pro choice has little correlation and absolutely no causality with taxpaying. A welfare leech can believe in God no less or more than a top earner. So we can safely assume that removing them from the voters will not change the outcome of the hypothetical vote "Is there a God?"

This leaves us with personal (assumed) interest. I'm not claiming that the selfish interest of the "leech" is less valuable than the selfish interest of a model citizen. The personal safety of the non-voting children is more strongly protected by laws, crimes against children are punished more harshly and I'd gladly extend this protection to "leeches". The problem with one who doesn't earn his own food is the lack of connection to the process of creation, therefore the lack of recognized interest protecting it.

Let me explain: my closest personal interest would be cutting taxes. My income would double in absence of taxes. However like every non-retarded people (which includes "leeches" but not investment brokers of 2000-2007) I know that things can't be paid with thin-air money, so I can only cut tax if I cut government spendings. For example I could cut the educational costs. However I was myself educated and without this education I couldn't fulfill my job. Also, I need educated coworkers every time one leaves, so if education would disappear, my workplace would be unable to continue operation and I'd be fired. I could cut the defense budget, but for my workplace to operate it needs stability. No one buys its product during a (civil) war. I could cut the health care system, but then what would happen if I or my coworkers get ill. We can't work, our income source goes away.

Being a productive person, I'm personally connected to practically every single government projects except direct social transfers (welfare, medicare, social security, medicaid and whatever name "money for nothing" has in your country). I couldn't cut any project without cutting myself. This connection is experienced by every single productive person, including the least intelligent ones. Even a barely-literal street-sweep travels on the city bus, protected by the cops, treated by the doctors. These things can and should be explained him on his level.

On the other hand leeches are connected only to social transfers. The collapse of transportation, electricity, education, home defense and all and every other systems would cause him no decrease of income, assuming that the welfare system keeps operating. If the magic unicorns keeps sending him his welfare check, he can't care less if his country is in total disarray. If he votes for less maintenance of the electrical system, he just has to suffer the nuisance of power outages a few times. For a working person it's much more than that, as machines stop and the current batch of products is lost. He directly experience the damage the wrong policy caused and can vote the next election to fix it before it becomes a fatal problem.

Of course a leech can understand intellectually that magic unicorns don't exists and if there is no government, there is no welfare check. However no one can tell how much weight the system can carry before breaking down and he can rightfully assume that it can carry a little bit more. The point is that until the situation comes to Mad Max riding his bike, the leech is rationally better off voting for more social transfers and more weight placed on the working people. The problem is that - as the Greeks will see soon - Mad Max isn't that far.

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Anonymous said...

Similar to this discussion of leeches and voting rights can be found in Robert A. Heinlein's book, Starship Troopers (I reiterate, the book, not the terrible movie, which had nothing to do with the politics & society).

The very basic premise is that in order to be a citizen (which includes the right to vote) you must have served your country (not sure if that is just some type of military service, or any type of government service). At that point you have proved your worth to society. People who are not citizens still have rights and access to most services, but not to vote. Interesting read if you get a chance.

tweell said...

From the start of the US in 1776 to 1820 the only people allowed to vote were white male property-owners who paid taxes. From 1820 to 1850 the laws in the states gradually changed until there was no requirement for owning or paying anything. In 1870, the 15th Amendment stated that all male citizens could vote, taking out the skin hue restriction. In 1920, women got the vote (19th Amendment).
Now the US leech concentration is reaching critical levels. Hmm.

Unknown said...

Given recent comments in US politics about the 47%, there doesn't need to be any correlation between people the politician calls leeches and their actual (lack of) contribution to society. And if an aspiring autocrat is already in the business of demonizing the opposition, it would be trivial to justify the tax increases without giving them the right to vote in return. Indeed, such a tradeoff would be seen as appeasement by said autocrat's power base.

Unknown said...

I personaly know working and taxpaing persons, who belive that water and electricity provided by some magical entity and civil war will be just fun counter strike with real guns, with all benefits of civilization remain.
And number of such people is realy scary.

chequers said...

I have problems with two particular points of this argument:

The "leeches can't vote" is the only non-abusable criteria, as you can only lock someone out by making him not pay tax, weakening the budget of your own government.
I don't think this is accurate. What is unlikely about a party making bad economic choices in order to improve their political chances? All governments ramp up handouts in the leadup to an election. It seems reasonable for a government to start counting poorer voters as ineligible leeches if it thinks they're more likely to vote for the opposition.

The problem with one who doesn't earn his own food is the lack of connection to the process of creation, therefore the lack of recognized interest protecting it.
I also think this point needs more support around it. I have no connection to the american space program, being non-american and working in an unrelated field. Yet I support it! How can this be when I lack the "connection" you talk of?

A final concern is that I'm not sure how you tell the difference between people who are leeches because of deliberate bad behaviour and those who have simply fallen on hard times. Some unemployed people lost everything through bad luck -- is it fair to take a vote away from them? It's a highly symbolic move, not good for their state of mind.

Gevlon said...

@Mika Hirvonen: someone making dictatorship doesn't need my system, he can do it now just as easily.

@Kana: the big difference between the working person and a leech is that the former (even if totally stupid), will feel the deterioration of systems. Your example idiots would surely change their minds about the importance of the transportation system if they would get their salary cut and threatened to be fired for being late from work. On the other hand a leech may be annoyed by being late but it has no serious consequences on him.

@Checkers: A government can indeed decrease the budget just to lock out a group. But then the country would be worse off and their voters would not be happy about it.

How much money did you sent to the NASA to support the space program? If none, just have a good opinion about it, you did not support it at all.

Some people get bad luck. Next week they'll have good luck. Permanent bad luck doesn't exist, that's called incompetence.

Andru said...

Gevlon, your theory has about as much traction as communism. Very good in theory, bad when you take into account the irrationality of people.

It is as if you have never heard of political parties EVER hurting their country in the long run for political gain. Your counter that 'voters will be unhappy' is ridiculously short sighted. All the government has to find is a out-group to blame (jews, banks, EU, immigrants) and people, irrational as they are, will gleefuly jump on the bandwagon. Nationalism is a very primitive social behaviour, a derivative of tribalism, and most people will gladly accept a scapegoat.

Your proposal would only work when the vast majority of people in a country are completely rational.

Syl said...

what if you can't pay tax because you can't find work or genuinely can't work? and who's going to help improve your situation then (to get back to work) if nobody is there to represent you and speak for you in votes?
a state represents its people; if a part of those people require social support for whatever reason, it represents them too. whether you like that or not.

cutting off people from voting is the perfect way to perpetuate issues and status quos. just like cutting off the poor from education is. it's the perfect scenario for the few privileged when everyone else is also automatically and systematically cut off from ever reaching their loftier ground. if you deny access, don't complain if nobody accesses you / your way of living. you can't have it both ways.

this kind of sabotage is also done on big scale, for example between western world and african markets. we overflood immature markets with our cheap excess and then point fingers at them for never getting on their own feet and getting their own economy and production running. it's hypocritical, selfish and destructive. what you seem to ignore in all your standard arguments is that winning is not enough - other must fail. the real world isn't an MMO with unlimited space or resources and everyone starting off at level 1.

Unknown said...

@Mika Hirvonen: someone making dictatorship doesn't need my system, he can do it now just as easily.
If they can do it just as easily under your system as they can now, your bankruptcy check-and-balance wouldn't amount to much, now would it?

Gevlon said...

@Mika Hirvonen: since most democracies are resistant to turn into dictatorship, if the new system isn't worse it won't turn either. On the other hand the new system would prevent bankruptcy.

@Sly: the very point is that the leeches vote not for a fix of their situation but for more welfare. Leeches would still cost money to the working people so they would gladly vote for any program that actually fix them and give them job.

Anonymous said...

Your arguments are off by more than a mile.

You argue, that leeches are people who are to lazy to work for their own food. Guess what, the same lazyness works at the voting booth, too. Lazy people don't vote, they sit on the couch and watching TV. You don't have to exempt them from voting, they're doing it themselves.

Prohibiting a single group from voting, is the slippery slope to that will prohibit other groups from voting, that dont fit your vision of the world, too.
And why stop at voting? Let's neuter the lazy and the dumb, so they dont reproduce. Hell, why not put them in labour camps, so they do something usefull for a change? Since they have no political representation, no one will care, if they die there...

People dont act rational. Especially not if voting is concerned. For example: You cant explain rationally, that taxcuts for the rich (income above 250.000 US Dollar) are supported by a lot more people, than the 2% profiting from it.
Why do they do that? They dream of earning so much money themselves. Now guess how many of the population will ever earn that much. Right, two percent.

Voting is an "everyone or no one" matter. Prohibiting people from voting, is not only a step to Dictatorship. A true democracy has to withstand the pressure of different groups wanting different things.
And most importantly: Not the poor are the reason, there isnt enough money to solve our problems. The rich are.

Unknown said...

I disagree with your characterization of who are the productive members of society - in my understanding, essentially all of the poor and working-class are helpful, productive members of society, while the 1% are frequently exploiters on a vast scale, doing maneuvers like the bank bailout (running up massive bad debts and then arranging for society as a whole to pay for them - definition of a leech).

However, I think taking the vote away from the bankers who were bailed out would seem moderately okay in theory.

The problem is that in practice laws cannot soley be based on what is just. They also need to be at "bright lines" - easy to enforce. A river is a canonical bright line, and many national borders are along rivers. If you place a law at a blurry line, it is more expensive to enforce. Another problem is that a blurry line is a slippery slope - selfish special interests can more easily push an otherwise just law away from justice if it is along a blurry line.

The political strategy of gradually shrinking the pool of the enfranchised is well-characterized by the "First they came.." speech:

To mangle Churchill, absolutely everyone having a vote is the worst idea except for all of the other ideas that have been tried.

Anonymous said...

The weakness is identifying the leeches. One man's leech is another man's weak, and it becomes remarkably easy to cull those who would have been an increase to your society just because you can't see their worth, present or potential.

I have other philosophical disagreements, but that's an innate weakness within your proposal.

Phelps said...

Actually, I think you assume too many things have to be done by the government. We do pretty well in America with the medical field not being run from the top down by the government. (There's a reason people come here from all over the world for cutting-edge procedures instead of Canada or Britain.) The same for city buses.

Preventing a sudden collapse is certainly in everyone's interest, but weaning people off of the government-run systems is better. Even before America went to funding medicine for the indigent, it was already being provided by charity -- the catholic church in particular led in this, which is why so many American hospitals are named after saints.

Karl said...

You should read Starship Troopers. If you want to limit franchise to a select few how would you like to put your life as the sum value of your right to vote rather than the sum of your bank account. If you start talking along those lines I might start to agree with you rather than the hostile drivel you sprout.

Voting represents the ultimate way that we as private citizens can exercise power. With that comes great authority and it's converse responsibility. the yin and yang of this is that if you wish to exercise control over society you should be willing to wager your life through some form of service to your nation rather than thinking your ability to make money makes you somehow more noble than the person who is on disability (not necessarily through some reprehensible fault of his own).

Any lemming who can count has the ability to earn money.

(I do not agree with the society that Heinlein advocates in his book but I find it infinitely preferable to a society dominated by peoples wallets.)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the US is doing realy great in healtcare.

Place 37 in the 2000er WHO ranking, just above Costa Rica.
The US may have the best healtcare, if you're rich. So every rich smug, from all over the world will come to your, to treat the cancer he got from a life of glutony and overindulgence.
But for the average Joe? Good luck... you'll need it.

whatever said...

Personally, I would be okay with no one having the right to vote if it meant rich people would have to stop blaming other people for the failures of their policies. Which the majority of the population were against anyway.

Kwillock said...

Crying for food and diaper change at 7 weeks is normal. Do this at 15 years old makes you a leech. Teaching and learning. Growing and producing is a duty. Expecting answers to cheat my way through school or boost me through the raid makes me a leach.

Anonymous said...

You have it all backwards.

You don't get to vote because you choose to be a productive member of society.

You get to vote because you choose NOT to be a destructive member of society.

Anonymous said...

If welfare recipients could not vote, the rate of voters in my country would drop from 30% to 29%, with no relevant difference on result. Welfare people are not the majority, and they certainly don't vote, because they don't get their shit together. You're chasing a ghost.