Democracy Reform

Sir Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the rest. He is right. Its the best form of government but it also has its flaws. I think that its flaws endanger democracy and needs to be fixed. This blog is for like minded people who want to see democracy improved. I invite people to sumbit essays. I will publish even those I do not agree with so long as I find them interesting.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Here is an interesting article by Fjordman. What I found striking and of relevence to this blog was his comment on European votrepreneurers importing immigrants to help them win elections.

Electing a New People: The Leftist - Islamic Alliance - by Fjordman

Bertolt Brecht wrote a satirical poem after the 1953 East German risings:
"The solution
After the uprising of 17 June
The Secretary of the Writers' Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the People
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?"

At the beginning of the 21st century, electing a new people seems to be exactly what Socialist parties in Europe are doing. Perhaps the greatest idea of the Leftist parties after the Cold War was to re-invent themselves as Multicultural immigration parties and start importing voters from abroad. In addition to this, they have managed to denounce the opposition as racists, bigots and extremists. A new alliance of convenience between Leftists and Muslim immigrants is taking shape in Europe. I think the deal is that the Leftist parties get a number of new clients, I mean voters, in return for giving Muslims privileges and subsidies, as well as keeping the borders more or less open for new Muslims to enter. As one Muslim put it: "I vote for the Socialists because they give me more money." The Leftists are, in essence, electing a new people, replacing the one already there with one more supportive of their agenda.

There is, of course, nothing new in buying votes and "clients" by promising them access to other people's money. This was the essence of Leftism in the first place. However, although this is probably a flaw in the democratic system, democracy has still functioned within the borders of stable nation states. This flaw gets a lot more dangerous when combined with massive immigration, where certain political parties simply import people from other nations, even vocal enemies of their country, to shore up their own short-term support in elections. This will in the longer term breed resentment among the native population, who will in this way be forced to fund their own colonization. In the context of Europe, Muslim immigration could turn democracy into a self-defeating system that will eventually break down because native Europeans no longer feel that it serves their interests.

Read the rest of it here:

Too Much Democracy (and too little) is Bad for you - by Ohmyrus

The most democratic form of government is when every decision is decided by a vote. This is known as direct or pure democracy. A pure democracy is of course impractical as the average citizen neither has the time nor the ability to understand the complex issues that affect a modern nation. There will be great contention and frequent changes in policy as public opinion like fashions frequently changes. It would lead to bad government and anarchy. This is so obvious that no modern country has attempted a direct democracy. All modern democracies are representative democracies where votrepreneurers are elected for fixed terms.

This is what America's Founders thought of pure democracy:

A simple democracy . . . is one of the greatest of evils.
- Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration

Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state, it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.
- John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration

The other extreme would be a dictatorship where the government is in the hands of one man ruling for life. He decides what is best for everybody. While there is likely to be more discipline, it also invites abuse of power. Power will be used for his own benefit and not that of the general public. Saddam Hussein is a good modern example of this. He could build palaces for himself while his people starved.

In the former, the government is totally responsive to the needs of the people but unable to impose sufficient discipline to prevent anarchy. The latter form of government can impose discipline but is totally unresponsive to the needs of the people.

Clearly, neither extremes of pure democracy and dictatorship are desirable. Therefore there must be a happy medium between them. An effective government must have a sufficient degree of Political Insulation from the heat and capricious passions of the mob. Too much insulation and you get a dictator who builds palaces for himself even though his people are starving. Too little and you get anarchy.

But how much Insulation is sufficient? Judging by the performance of democracies in the last half century, I would say the current levels of Insulation are not enough. Few of the world's existing democracies provide effective leadership. Even the people noticed and many people are not bothering to vote. Opinion polls often show that politicians are not respected. The problem lies not so much with the votrepreneurers (politicians) but with the system they labor in.

Problems of budget deficits, aging population, unemployment and growing ethnic tensions with immigrants etc are not being solved and I suspect cannot be solved by democracies as they are currently constituted. This is due to the inability for votrepreneurers to inflict short term pain for long term gain.

A simple way to thicken the Political Insulation to make governments more effective is to lengthen the time in office for elected officials and fixing it at one term for each politician. See my earlier article, 'Democracy needs a Reformation' for further elaboration on the problems and possible solutions.

If these problems are not solved and worsens in time, the collapse of even mature democracies will one day happen and we end up with dictatorships. History has examples of democracies failing resulting in anarchy in which tired people turned to strong men to restore order. I would like to highlight this quote from one of America's Founders:

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.
- John Adams

What I see now is many democracies committing slow motion suicide with long term problems which they are not solving.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Democracy and the Welfare state by Ohmyrus

If seventy people rob thirty richer people (in a country of 100 people) of their hard earned money that is criminal. But if these seventy people elect a government to tax the thirty richer people and give the money to them, then that is democracy. Does that make sense?

Essentially there is no difference between a welfare state and robbery. A robber uses a gun to deprive someone of his property. In a democracy, the gun has been replaced with the ballot box. That's the only difference. Violence is still needed. If you don't pay your taxes, the police (who has guns) will send you to jail. The result is the same.

It was reported in 1988 in the Economist that less than 1% of poor people are those who have high school education and stable marriages. Therefore, it is the more virtuous, diligent, smarter people who must subsidize the lifestyle of the less virtuous, diligent and smart people. This is a flaw in democracy. (Inspite of this and other flaws, democracy is still the best form of government devised by man which is a reflection of the sad state of human affairs. )

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a somewhat secluded island with about 500 people who were mostly farmers and fishermen. Disputes were few and were informally settled by 'elders'. So there was no need for a formal government.

As time went by, some of the islanders grew more prosperous than the majority of the people. Some of them got rich out of luck. But most did it out of hard work, skill and discipline.

But the majority did not do as well. A few of these even did abysmally. Some of them suffered from bad luck but it was mostly because they were not as diligent or skilful as those that prospered. Some even neglected their jobs and wasted their time seducing their neighbors' wives or getting drunk on rum. They noticed that some of them were much more prosperous than they were and could even afford to buy luxuries that came with passing trade ships.

Years went by, the population grew and the system of elders was under strain. Robberies, initially unheard of, were becoming common. A group of the poorer islanders who spent their time drunk or chasing women decided to try to rob the fewer rich farmers and fishermen. After all, there were more poor than rich islanders and they would be outnumbered.

But they were dissuaded from doing so because a clever islander came up with a better idea to get their property. Why not set up a government based on one-man-one vote? The elected President would of course need a police force to keep law and order.

Initially, the richer islanders liked the idea because they thought a police force would protect their property from robbers. Of course, they would have to pay taxes to support the police force but that is the price you pay for secure property rights. Or is it?

Soon, to get elected to the Presidency, the votrepreneurers were promising to tax the fewer rich and redistribute their wealth to the poorer islanders. Any votrepreneurer who runs on the promise to protect property rights could not get elected. The few voices who denounced welfare as legalized robbery were denounced as greedy or selfish people who do not want to share their wealth. But to this day, I cannot understand why those people who want others to give them their hard earned money are not considered greedy when those who want to keep their hard earned money are greedy.

This story, though fictitious, has happened in nearly every democracy and America is no exception. The Reagan and Newt Gingrich revolution to cut the size of the government has failed. In reality, it had no chance of succeeding given the income distribution and the one man one vote system. Since the New Deal, transfer payments (welfare and entitlements) by the Federal Government has increased.

In the 1960s, transfer payments comprised less than one third of the Federal Budget. Today it accounts for 60%. (1) What makes this trend even more painful is the surrender of the Republicans to the welfare state. C. Bradley Thompson wrote about this in an insightful essay, 'The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism.' (2)

According to Thompson, Irvin Kristol, who is the Father of Neo Conservatism advised Republicans to surrender to the reality of the welfare state. To win elections, you must persuade voters to switch sides. The traditional conservative stance of cutting entitlement programs has cost them votes. But the welfare state is to be given a conservative spin. The money should be used to nourish the Republicans' conservative base - the Christian right. Votrepreneurers like George Bush listened to his advice and he won a narrow victory against Al Gore in 2000.

Thus was born the concept of compassionate conservatism. While the traditional conservatives like Reagan and Gingrich wanted a smaller government and hence less transfer payments, Bush wants a conservative welfare state. His signature idea is the faith based welfare programs administered by churches.

His idea is that they can do a better job than government managed welfare programs which resulted in welfare dependency, breakdowns in families and drug abuse. It remains to be seen if his idea can work. But one thing is for sure, Government spending has shot up.

During Bush's first term, total spending rose from $1.86 trillion to $2.48 trillion. Federal spending as a percentage of GDP rose from 18.5% to 20.3%. Even without the effects of September 11, government spending still rose. The Republicans are no longer the party of small government. Say bye bye to the Reagan revolution.(3)

To end this article, let me quote a very wise man, Ben Franklin.

'Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting to decide what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!'

(1)Patrick Chisolm, 'Triumph of the Redistributionist Left,' Christian Science Monitor, January 23, 2006.

(2)The Objective Standard, Fall 2006 Volume 1, No. 3

(3)Stephen Slivinsky, 'The Grand Ole Spending Party: How Republicans became Big Spenders,' Cato Institute Policy Analysis no. 543.
Brian Riedl, 'Federal Spending - by the Numbers,' The Heritage Foundation, October 7, 2005.