Saturday, 26 March 2011

If voting changed anything...

 The debate over the alternative vote, and more generally PR, seems to me to be an attempt by the unelectable to get a toe into the public trough.

Firstly AV is smoke and mirrors. Let's take 3 candidates, Jill get 38% of the vote, John 33% and Jade 29%.  Jade's votes are reallocated to give either Jill or John over 50% of the vote which is meant to make them more representative.  Of course it doesn't because they only got 38% and 33% of the vote and the rest is a fudge.

If AV or PR does anything it leads to more coalition government where you vote for a set of policies which are then junked in a coalition agreement, if one can be reached.  Belgium has been trying to form a government for nearly 300 days. Or Germany where the Free Democrats, the third party in elections, have been part of the Government for more time than either of the larger parties.

However that is not to say we do not need a reform of the political system. The reform we need will give us, the public, control of politics. I favour direct democracy where we have real power over government.  For example x thousand voters should be able to put a referendum question on the ballot paper. California is a good example of public initiatives and I have favoured this since proposition 13 in the mid 70s.

California also allows recall elections where the public can remove an elected politician from office, Arnie being a recent beneficiary of this.

In an ideal world we should try and move to a Swiss style democracy where the electorate have much more control of the Government.

Wikipedia explains this well:

By calling a federal referendum a group of citizens may challenge a law that has been passed by Parliament, if they can gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days. If so, a national vote is scheduled where voters decide by a simple majority whether to accept or reject the law. Eight cantons together can also call a referendum on a federal law.

Similarly, the federal constitutional initiative allows citizens to put a constitutional amendment to a national vote, if they can get 100,000 voters to sign the proposed amendment within 18 months. Parliament can supplement the proposed amendment with a counter-proposal, with voters having to indicate a preference on the ballot in case both proposals are accepted.

However the world is not ideal. Would direct democracy work in Britain where vast swathes of voters in the northern wastelands survive on the public teat? Or where ethnic ghettos operate corrupt politics more akin to third world countries?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

HMRC, you are joking aren't you?

Received in the post this morning a letter from HMRC chasing money:

"We are sure you appreciate the link between companies paying their taxes promptly and the allocation of money to public services from which we all benefit."



verb, -at·ed, -at·ing.
to be grateful or thankful for: They appreciated histhoughtfulness.
–verb (used with object)
to value or regard highly; place a high estimate on: toappreciate good wine.
to be fully conscious of; be aware of; detect: to appreciatethe dangers of a situation.

Am I grateful? Er, No.

Do I value or regard highly? That's another no.

Am I fully conscious of? I'm afraid so. It is because I am aware that I object.

I wonder which public services they think I think are a benefit?  There are not many.

And how many are value for money? Even fewer.

Let's be clear I agree with some services being paid for out of taxes. I have a big problem with the state providing the services.  (Almost) all services should be provided by anyone other than the state.

For example I agree with state funded education. I object to schools being run by the state. The state should give an education voucher for each child, value dependant on age, to be cashed in at the school of OUR choice.