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Is Universal Suffrage proper?

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This question arose about year ago, and I still cannot figure the right answer. In capitalist country, will there be universal suffrage, or will there be income census? As of now, I think that income census makes much sense, but I want clearer understanding, so what arguments for each can you guys bring? Devil advocates are welcomed.

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I think that the proper way to think about this is what powers will suffrage enable, and what checks does it have. I don't have a problem with universal suffrage as such, unless it is not properly bounded.

For instance, if both houses of Congress are elected through universal suffrage, and congress can legally punish a minority, say with progressive taxation, then you will naturally tend toward what we have today, which is that the rich minority get their rights trampled because they can't overcome mob rule.

This is one of the reaons John Adams argued for representation of the "aristrocracy" through the higher house of the bicameral legislature in "A Defence of the Constitution of the United States", and why he predicted that the French Revolution would not end well, given their unicameral structure (and a lot more).

In a properly capitalist country, government cannot by law interfere in the economy so technically, universal suffrage should be ok.

Edited by KendallJ
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In capitalist country, will there be universal suffrage, or will there be income census?
In capitalist country, is only freedom. In socialist country, is universal suffering. (More effective if delivered in a west Slavic accent). Anyhow, seriously, universal suffrage is a bad idea because it literally means that 2 year olds have the right to vote. Then who should have the right to have a measurable influence on the form of a government? Income level (dunno what an income census would be) for example an income greater than $40,000 per annum could be a consideration in terms of level of vested interest in the well-being of a rational society. But then I was thinking, maybe that might be a bit too high. The point of an income consideration would be to preclude welfare crack whores from setting policy. I actually doubt that many welfare crack whores can find the polling place so I don't think they matter so much.

Underlyingly, there is this problem that allowing all non-criminal adults to influence the form of their government leads to plainly absurd results, but the first change I would suggest is disenfranchising the certifiably loopy, and then disenfranchising some recipients of benefits from taxation, but starting with the worst (for example, those who exist only on welfare payments). Low on the list would be rationalistic generalizations like "anyone who had ever benefited somehow from taxation".

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I actually doubt that many welfare crack whores can find the polling place so I don't think they matter so much.

Unfortunately, in the South, they do. The Dems like to register them and bus them to polling places so they are assured of their votes. (Not sure if they're actual whores and/or addicted to crack, but definitely welfare recipients, many of whom, are not law-abiding.)

Back to the topic at hand, I am torn on this subject. DO, are you suggesting that if I make less than $40K per year (for example), I shouldn't have the right to vote? As a poor college student and even later, as a struggling 20-something year-old, I managed to stay informed and felt that I had the right to vote. In anticipation of my higher, future income, should I not be allowed to vote on laws that may effect me in the future?

On the other hand, I see where you're going with lower-income and welfare recipients. Why should they be allowed to vote on issues that will effect the people who are paying for them to get by?

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An argument can also be made that government functionaries or contractors electing the government is a conflict of interest.

In capitalist country, is only freedom. In socialist country, is universal suffering. (More effective if delivered in a west Slavic accent). Anyhow, seriously, universal suffrage is a bad idea because it literally means that 2 year olds have the right to vote. Then who should have the right to have a measurable influence on the form of a government? Income level (dunno what an income census would be) for example an income greater than $40,000 per annum could be a consideration in terms of level of vested interest in the well-being of a rational society. But then I was thinking, maybe that might be a bit too high. The point of an income consideration would be to preclude welfare crack whores from setting policy. I actually doubt that many welfare crack whores can find the polling place so I don't think they matter so much.

Underlyingly, there is this problem that allowing all non-criminal adults to influence the form of their government leads to plainly absurd results, but the first change I would suggest is disenfranchising the certifiably loopy, and then disenfranchising some recipients of benefits from taxation, but starting with the worst (for example, those who exist only on welfare payments). Low on the list would be rationalistic generalizations like "anyone who had ever benefited somehow from taxation".

Err, guys, I don't understand what both of you are talking about :) Maybe, its reaction on me making unclear question in the first place?

OK, I'll clarify.

IMO, deciding whether to allow man to vote really means deciding if man is

a) interested in government respecting rights (ie. is not thug or moocher)

B) smart enough to decide who will be best in office

A means that criminals are out. IMO, A and B also mean that only self-sustaining men must be allowed to vote: if they manage to earn considerable sum of money, then they are both smart and interested in their money having value. Because force overrides reason and, as consequence, money, such men will be interested in initiation of force remaining illegal. On the contrary, those who can't get out of poverty on their own will surely appreciate Robin Good to run the government. The thing is, it is questionable whether they will be smart enough to choose Robin Good, not Ellsworth Toohey. Either way, they will choose evil guy.

That's my not-yet-refined position. I want more facts and arguments so I can give the issue deeper thought.

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I think I am with you though on allowing only self-sufficient, informed persons to vote; however, how would any voting registrar be able to police this? Are we going to go back to the days of taking a test before you're allowed to vote? That seemed to be fraught with fraud, and seeing as people are already able to register their dead spouses and dogs to vote, do we really want to go there?

And not all wealthy men are necessarily smart or well-informed, so putting an income limit in place would not necessarily solve any problems.

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DO, are you suggesting that if I make less than $40K per year (for example), I shouldn't have the right to vote?
No, definitively not. I am morally certain that it is possible to exist in the US as a non-leech on less than that amount, as actual pay (I don't think it's possible to come up with a pre-tax gross general figure).
On the other hand, I see where you're going with lower-income and welfare recipients. Why should they be allowed to vote on issues that will effect the people who are paying for them to get by?
I also do not object to allowing marginal-income self-sufficient people voting on the people who will steal out money, except if in fact they vote for people who steal our money. Since Bill Gates and many other very rich people support theft to some extent (some more than others), I'm saying that income per se is a poor test.

The basic tests are based on "conflict of interest" (welfare-whore) and informedness. Ideally the test would involve some kind of basic citizenship test regarding the function and consequences of government. I would prefer that people who have a vested interest in taking my money aay from me not be allowd to exercize that interest, but I don't know how to enforce that legally. Elect me philosopher-king and maybe I can try out a few things. Otherwise, I dunno. So as a "what to do right now" kind of solution, I don't see any grounds for changing things relative to the current system.

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Since Bill Gates and many other very rich people support theft to some extent (some more than others), I'm saying that income per se is a poor test.

I agree. Speaking of the rich who support theft, I read where Warren Buffet is going around lately talking about how he pays fewer taxes than his receptionist. That statement bothers me on so many levels. One level being that I just can't believe he's supporting further taxation on the rich rather than a reduction, or better yet, elimination, of taxes for all, but I digress.

Elect me philosopher-king and maybe I can try out a few things.

:lol: You could not be any worse that what we've got going on now!

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I definately agree that there should be a test on the basic political knowledge. It would be a basic test with questions such as: is hillary clinton a socialist? (the answer of course is yes :dough: ). People should have to know what, and who, they are voting for in order to vote. If people don't know what they are voting for, I see no difference in letting these people vote and the afore mentioned two year olds.

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I toyed briefly with the idea of suffrage being linked to owning an interest in land. My reasoning at the time was that government, a territorial monopoly on the legitimate use of force, should be controlled by those interested in the territory over which the government had jurisdiction. This led eventually to the idea that anyone who had any interest in real property could vote. That is, ownership, lease, rental, leins, life estates. At that point I realized that if it was a one-person-one-vote kind of system, it would fall apart and would encourage fragmenting of property interests and consolidating those interests in large holding companies. I stopped thinking about it at that point, mostly because I had other more pressing matters that needed some processor time, so this issue got bumped back in the queue. What if each fee simple got a certain number of votes based on its size (ground surface area? Plus usable floor space? Or maybe by value, but that might complicate other things), and then those votes are distributed according by a formula to the various holders of estates, leases, leins, etc.

Just a thought - I'm not committed to it and will take any suggestions. Though I should mention that I did this thinking from a ground-up perspective, not a let's-dig-ourselves-out-of-this-hole, first perspective.

-Q

Edit: typos

Edited by Qwertz
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When I gave this topic thought many a year ago, I came up with a testing system that was based on understanding of and respect for others rights, so I am going with that one too. I also agree with David in saying it is not worthwhile considering as a what-we-can-do-now issue, as could we change anything of this nature then we could change ANYTHING and so we would take the opportunity to fix up the lot. I don't see that in my lifetime.

Anyway, I do not believe in universal suffrage, but nor do I accept the ownership of property as any way meaningful (for all the same reasons mentioned above). I don't like the notion of withholding voting rights based on conflict of interest matters, either. Taken to its conclusion that would also bar from voting not just welfare recipients but people like soldiers and judges as well. The aim of ensuring that only the right people vote is so that only the right policies get enacted and nobody's rights are violated by bad laws. Well then, why not cut to the chase and directly test people for that? In particular, I worded it as understanding and respect for the primary section of my Bill of Rights in my Constitution.

I thought of a basic version and a more complicated version, with the simple version being the one in my Constitution. In the simple version, people either pass or fail one test. Those who pass, ie those with sufficient understanding of and respect for the rights of others, get to both vote and stand for election. I would also have it that only those who pass the tests could also be members of the judiciary. The test would be open to anyone aged 18 and over who was either by birth or immigration had the right of domicile.

In the more complicated version, there were four classifications and three tests. The tests get more involved as they progress, reflecting the scope of the voter's electoral influence. All four classifications of people were entirely for electoral purposes, and did not in any way affect other rights. The first classification were the untested, who do not have the right to vote. Those who take and pass the first test enter the second classification and become eligible both to vote for and stand for election to the Lower House of the legislature of that jurisdiction. This House would generally have the priority over the Upper House of that jurisdiction. Those who pass the second test then enter the third classification and could both vote for and stand for election to both Houses. Finally, those who take the third, final, and most advanced test, would then be in the fourth classification and become eligible to vote for and stand for election to the executive and judiciary branches of that government.

In countries with a state/federal split, anyone who passed at the federal level automatically passed at the state level. I figured that this would in practice end up meaning that the states generally don't bother with their own tests and just specify federal voting rights, but I thought the possibility of states having their own internal systesms ought remain anyway.

Having a constitutional provision for the matter and testing directly for rights knowledge and respect cuts through everything, including dealing with issues like conflict of interest in a way that wont be subject to the policy of the day. Another benefit is that it creates an objective basis for taking away someone's right to vote. Such a move would have to be decided by a court of relevant jurisdiction, but it would be a definite process complete with legal representation and the like. It is even self-reinforcing (especially in the complicated version) as only those who passed the test would be eligible to be a magistrate or judge. The hard part about any testing system, however, is ensuring the objectivity of that testing, both in terms of what is tested for and how test responses are evaluated.

JJM

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