April 9, 2015 by Anders Ingemarson
A couple of weeks ago Mr. Obama put out a feeler for mandatory voting arguing that it may offset the campaign funding clout of millionaires and billionaires (no doubt excluding contributions from unions, the environmentalist and trial lawyer lobbies, and Silicon Valley left leaning billionaires). Aside from the fact that mandatory voting is a contradiction in terms—the right to vote includes the right to abstain—what explains the obsession with voting in so many quarters? Why has the right to vote taken on such a disproportionate importance? Why is “getting out the vote” the focus of both political parties leading up to every election?
The answer lies in the fact that our government is involved at every level and with every aspect of our lives. This means that we, the people, sense the urgency of having a say in how that involvement is being carried out. If we don’t vote, we’ll be run over by others who do vote, and who think they know what’s best for us. Our right to vote becomes a weapon in the high-stakes war between political parties and their armies of special interest groups fighting over the tax, spending and regulatory bounty that goes to the winner.
But it shouldn’t have to be this way. In a truly free society—a society with total separation of state and the economy—the right to vote would be a marginal issue. How so? We simply wouldn’t have that much to vote on.
Let’s say you’re going to the polls to protect your hard-earned Social Security. In a society with total separation of state and the economy you would be in charge of your retirement without government involvement. You would plan for it from the day you entered the work force (or not, in which case you have nobody but yourself to blame). Neither you nor your employer would pay social security taxes, leaving you with a higher paycheck and more money to invest towards your golden age. And capital gains and dividend taxes would be a distant memory meaning that your returns would be substantially better than today. With no government involvement there would be no need to factor in retirement planning in your voting considerations.
Maybe you are casting your vote to secure government “public” education for your children? In a society with total separation of state and the economy you would not be at the mercy of your local school board and the state and federal Departments of Education. You would be in control of your children’s education. Think it would be too expensive? Only with the government in charge does education get more and more expensive over time. If left to the market, education would become cheaper, shorter, and of better quality year after year just like most other products and services. And with property taxes a thing of the past you would control more of your own money. With education left to the market place, your vote is of no consequence for your children’s education.
Does Medicare factor into your voting decisions? In a society with total separation of state and the economy, the government would not be able to force a particular health care scheme on you. You would be empowered to manage your own health care, with the marketplace offering you a plethora of health insurance options for catastrophic events, and doctors competing for your business with both quality and price. Your health would not depend on your vote.
This pattern repeats itself in every area of the economy. With government involvement removed—with total separation of state and each area of the economy—your vote becomes a lot less important.
So what would be left to vote on? Only issues related to the proper role of government: defense, incl. foreign policy, the police and the court system. No doubt important areas, but nothing compared to how much is determined by your vote today.
If you are concerned with the amount of money being poured into lobbying and elections, then work to reduce government—cutting taxes, cutting spending and repealing regulations at the federal, state and local levels. With no tax, spending and regulatory spoils to fight over, the incentives for those who supply the money today will be gone, and the right to vote will become a lot less important.