Vote and go back to sleep
With the US presidential election looming and the debate having just passed as of this newspaper's printing, I am reminded of a popular slogan used by some during voting times here: “vote or shut up.”
Apparently, voting is a necessary part of having an opinion. But what happens when none of the options in an election are ideal, or even remotely close to desirable? It does not follow that I should be forced to choose between a red or green shirt when I want blue in order to have an opinion. Rather, voting is the least you can do, especially when you disagree with the options. If you want real change or an accountable government, voting is one of the least useful options.
As an excellent example of the failures of voting to bring change, consider Mitt Romney's recent statements in a private conference. Though he said many, many things, what has attracted the most attention is summarized by a few of his comments about people who vote for Obama.
A paraphrase of what he said is this: that 47 per cent of people in the US are dependent upon government, or believe that they are entitled to receive things from government, and would vote for Obama as a result. What he draws a lot of heat for is also saying, “my job is not to worry about those people.”
To be fair to Romney, a statement like this at a private convention should be expected. He is a politician discuss-ing a strategy to get elected — i.e. by concentrating on the other 53 per cent of people — and Obama must also have a strategy.
There are at least two reasons why Romney's statements are both expected and bipartisan, i.e. an issue that affects both parties, and as a re-sult indicate that even voting against Romney won't affect things. First, politicians need to be elected and to ensure their re-election; second, a government naturally creates groups that have opposing interests.
To ensure election, Romney wants to focus on groups that benefit from lower taxes, and Obama wants to focus on groups that don't, among others. Whether you believe that groups in these two categories have opposing interests without government is up to you, but it is not as simple as stating that one exploits the other. Regardless of conditions without government, groups that benefit from lower taxes now have a direct conflict with the groups that don't.
Much like we vote for politicians to serve us, politicians “vote” for segments of the population by promising them things. Other people’s things, of course, since a politician has the power to take from some group, or even all groups through taxes, and promise it to who he thinks will win him the election.
This is a natural consequence of having a system where officials can take and redistribute possessions according to their desires, of which all human governments are examples.
As HansHermann Hoppe has said in his book Democracy: The God that Failed, “Democracy virtually assures that only bad and dangerous men will ever rise to the top of government.”
Both Romney and Obama have target groups to whom they pander. To think that we can solve this prob-lem by finding “the right people,” especially by voting, is nonsensical.
Likewise, voting cannot solve the problem of conflict between those that benefit from lower tax and those that don't. Taxes are similar to insurance: the amount gained by the group must be less than or equal to the amount put in by the group.
When individuals pool their resources for insurance, they are net losers, or at best break even. This must be the case or the extra resources would have to be taken from somewhere else. Tax is the same; no new resources are generated. Higher taxes on certain segments of a population are often flimsily justified by saying that the ones who are taxed lose less than the ones who the tax is given to, but taxes reduce the production of those segments.
Eventually, you end up with a significantly poorer country and cannot simply continue to tax the productive segment, making significant redistribution an unsustainable strategy.
Voting is not the allpowerful tool that proponents of the mantra “vote or shut up” indicate that it is. While Obama and Romney may differ on many issues, they are fundamentally the same: both promise benefits to certain groups, and exacerbate the conflict between differently taxed groups.
You may hate Romney for being “corporate,” but the amount of money spent on big businesses under Obama, such as in finance, is huge. Politicians and government cannot be held accountable or be controlled by voting, especially as infrequently as most systems vote.
We need to do more than vote; we need to be in control of our own lives rather than the lives of others.
For an excellent discussion of why governments and elections lead to less honest and more selfish politicians, look up How to Win an Election by Mark Brandly.