In an interview promoting my book, Guinea a Minute on LBC Radio I referred to another book, Death of the God Democracy by the German/American philosopher Hans Hoppe. To cut a long book short, he makes the point that the natural course of events with a democratic system is the danger of the electorate voting solely in their own interests. Leading the inevitably to the demise of the system.
History is littered with examples, two of which are the demise of the Roman Empire and the collapse of the Weimar Republik. Debasement of the currency and national debt are the usual precursors to such a demise. The British very cleverly avoided the breakdown of their society be the enactment of the 1840 Reform Acts. For those who did not have the benefit of a traditional education let me outline in a sentence or two how and why they came about.
Democracy in the 19th Century had stagnated, political power was largely in the hands of the aristocrats and landed gentry. The stories of 'rotten boroughs' makes fascinating reading today. For those interested Antonia Fraser's brilliant book on reform is well worth a fireside vigil.
The United Kingdom recognised that the main wealth of the nation was created by the new entrepreneurial middle class. They were grossly under represented electorally hence the Reform Acts to realign the balance and make the electorate more representative. This enlightenment has produced one of the most stable and long term democracies in the world. Yet we find ourselves out of kilter 160 years on.
Our forebears could not have conceived of a nation state where 50% GDP was spent by government. A nation where there are more civil servants today than at the height of the British Empire, the largest the world has ever seen. The current electoral system is failing. In spite of a post war generation of peace and security, the British national debt is the highest in its history. The real figure carefully hidden by government is near 200% of GDP when public sector pensions and private funding initiatives are taken into account. Close to Greece, where society has almost broken down. Without German bailouts it would be destitute. We see the rise of fascism. Always the beneficiary of an economic collapse. The UK is bankrupt, there is no possible chance of debt repayment, we borrow £120billion per year, we print billions of pounds which debases our currency.
How can the electoral system we have deliver salvation? 19million homes in Britain are in receipt of some sort of welfare benefit. Out of 1.3million people working for the NHS more than half have no medical qualification of any sort, managers average £70,000 per year salary, nurses £30,000. Banks are nationalized to save their employees from the consequences of their own folly, we have benefit claimants who have never worked and have no intention of working, often neither did their parents. Thousands of local government workers earn more than £100,000 per year, landowners get millions of pounds in subsides for, just being landowners. Our mainstream politicians have no commercial experience, no idea how the wealth creating sector operates.
How can we arrest this economic and moral decline with an electoral system which gives a vote to anybody and everybody, who happens to be over eighteen years old. The system must reform, we need a complete reappraisal to reflect, as we did in the 1840s, more electoral power for those who create the revenue so disappointingly squandered by a bloated administration.
Is the system fair when a shop keeper pays rates on his house and his business, not to mention a heavy VAT and Income Tax bill and gets one vote. Some of his nieghbours have contributed nothing to the national exchequer at all and maybe never will, they get one vote.
I do not expect to vote in a Unite ballot because I am not a member and pay no dues. I do not expect a vote at Marks and Spencer's AGM because I am not a shareholder. We need to get to a system where the interest of the individual and the state are more compatible. Enlightened self interest in the Adam Smith style. We need to do this now before society and the economy collapse. Let us at least start a national debate, they did all those years ago to our mutual benefit. We owe it to the next generation.
The status quo is not an option.