Ah, what an apparatus we have built for the enrichment of the poor.
It was relatively recently in the Western world that we extended the franchise to all adults, the United States gave women suffrage with the 19th amendment; in Canada, my native country, we finally, gave the aboriginal people suffrage in 1960, despite the fact that some reserves fail to acknowledge the crown as sovereign. Universal suffrage was a quixotic notion, one that came without any kind of assessment, as the old property and education requirements also fell away.
According to Elections Canada, Canada had property requirements as of 1885, but in the pattern of the British Great Reform Act of 1867 (the Second Great Reform Act) abolished requirements in all but Quebec. Meanwhile, the American founding fathers, according to the Lehrman Institute of American History, established property requirements as a means to determine the stake one had in society, but all but four states had abolished qualifications by 1860; worse yet, only eight states kept the criteria of paying taxes as a prerequisite for going to the ballot. Instead, we offered not just self-government, but the capacity to govern others directly to the electorate without concern for any sort of basic qualifications.
We are bleeding money, and they will just vote for more
Since the installment of universal suffrage welfare state entitlements have grown immensely. The national debt in the United States is over 18 trillion dollars according to the treasury department; aside from a handful of years during the Clinton administration debt has consistently clambered upwards at an ever accelerating pace. Canada, likewise, has hit 1.2 trillion owed, with rapid growth since the 1960’s and the establishment of a welfare state. Is there potential for a correlation here?
Perhaps people vote for what they covet. The poor may covet fiscal means and easy living; after all, the hardest working are rarely poor. The top 1% of North American income earners tend to work in jobs that demand extreme overtime according to American economist Thomas Sowell in his book Economic Facts and Fallacies.
The welfare state depends on women
Meanwhile, astute observer of culture, and founding father of neoconservatism Irving Kristol notes in his essay from the year 2000 “Two Welfare States” that the masculine conception of the welfare state as a last resort of minimal aid and maximal choice, along with a sense of paternalism, has been replaced by a maternal welfare state that is an expert in care.
The feminine, maternal vision of the welfare state now has the support not only of public opinion, but of institutions and professions that have been nourished by the state . . . there are large numbers of working women loyal to the state . . . and men, too, who are loyal to these women [my emphasis added]. These are . . . collectively the ‘helping professions,’ and include social work, nursing, psychology, public health . . . teaching, and branches of tv journalism. These professions . . . are politically active. . . . the largest single contingent at the Democratic convention [was] . . . the teachers unions.
We have stripped our entitlement programs and welfare reforms of virtually all obligation and sacrifice. Prior to the great depression it was the workhouse, the labour camp, or the road crew that would earn you your daily bread until you could find someplace else.
Peter Hitchens notes in his book The Abolition of Britain, that the workhouse was considered much too cruel for single mothers, so that last sacrifice was abolished. It is reasoned the poor suffer enough, and perhaps they do, but should they be able to impart such burdens as their upkeep on the rest of society without due consideration?
What is the answer?
The privilege of voting has become holy writ. Should it be?
I offer a solution: a temporary recall of the franchise for those currently receiving welfare and income supplements from the Federal government. This recall would affect those who are currently lacking in work, (I would have been in this category a handful of times myself) not those unfit or unable, but those currently unemployed and collecting assistance on a voluntary basis. Until society can come up with a better income supplement plan, and perhaps it never will, this is the only valid course of action.
Some critics may assert that it is an injustice and that many collect from such supplemental programs who do not necessarily desire such dependence, and no doubt it is true, but not pertinent to the proposition. Why? Because the democratic process is inherently discriminatory against the established population of a society. The great masses are flooding the ballot box with their ignorant assumptions and minds placated by bribes from sophist politicians.
If we take a look at prior American elections we can see the pernicious influence of universal suffrage in action: according to polls by CNN and Gallup, in the 2012 election unmarried women 66%, non-whites 90%, and those with less than a high school education 51%, as well as 60% of those who earned less than $50,000, and 73% who earned $15,000 or less voted for Obama. Not surprising, but it is readily apparent that these demographics skew electoral outcomes significantly. The idea that a large swatch of the population that creates little economic value can act as a political power broker is dangerous indeed.
Democracy is not conservative, it does not link generations past and present; democracy concerns itself with the winning of votes, and hence why a coherent philosophy will never be found in an elected official. This same concern for the now has led to the expansion of government spending across the Western world, and damaged our economies and our societies, possibly irreparably. Dependence on the state is at an all time high. We are all Greece; it’s just a matter of time before the collapse, and who can fault the voters for such behavior? It is certainly in their own interest.
However, take away the right to vote, and I believe you would see a rapid change. Democracy would become an incentive to leave poverty, and those who have means would no longer fear that the greater portion of the population will inevitably vote against their effort and work ethic.
Certainly such a proposal is shocking, and does not cohere with our current fetishizing of democracy. But we can ill afford to accept the lie that the customer is always right when it comes to government.