Paul B\’s not a bad lefty but still…..

Here in the real world, important decisions about what to do with our money are made by politicians belonging to political parties. I understand why politicians are not here held in high esteem, and why there\’s considerable distaste for giving them more of our money. But as a practical matter, we\’re not going to get them to vote to cut themselves off from large donations unless we offer an alternative. What is idiocy is to do nothing and continue to allow our rulers to be induced by donors to waste our money – can you imagine a large corporation allow staffing for its CEO\’s office to be paid for by donations solicited from suppliers and clients?

Err, let\’s have that again?

can you imagine a large corporation allow staffing for its CEO\’s office to be paid for by donations solicited from suppliers and clients?

Erm, everything that gets paid for in a corporation gets paid for from donations by suppliers and clients.

Because they\’re all engaging in voluntary exchange?

It\’s only tax which, being involuntary, is not a donation.

50 comments on “Paul B\’s not a bad lefty but still…..

  1. “Not a bad lefty”, now there’s an oxymoron, assuming, as he posted only a few minutes ago, that he is not dead.

  2. All this really demonstrates is that, if you believe in “the will of the people” or some such thing, Representative Democracy doesn’t deliver that, so it’s a failure as a system. Professional politicians will always be prone to be front men for particular interest groups, be they The Corporations or The Unions or, by far the worst of all, The Third Sector.

    There is an easy solution that is very cheap to implement. Take the “Representatives” out of the “Democracy”. Without going into too much detail, you need to abolish the legislature.

  3. But in the same way not all union members agree with the views of their union leadership, so not every client of a corporation will agree with everything the company lobbies government and political parties for. That reduces options to “boycott entirely” or “fund, whether I agree with everything it does or not”.

  4. we’re not going to get them to vote to cut themselves off from large donations unless we offer an alternative.

    That assumes we want them to cut themselves off from large donations.

    Look at it from the other end, from the perspective of the donor making a donation to a politician. The donor is quite literally putting his money where his mouth is. He wants a certain thing to happen and instead of just jibber-jabber he ponies up. Donated money is a substitute for speech.

    Limiting how much a donor can give to a politician is a limit on speech. And in a country that talks about free speech that speech ought to be, erm, free.

  5. Corporations aren’t supposed to represent their customers. They sell them stuff, make a profit, and then spend that profit on whatever they want.

  6. And as I pointed out to him on another post, you remove one means of bribing the scum, and they’ll just find another.

    What is idiocy is to believe you can clean up, even slightly, our ruling scum by holding a gun to the electorates head for even more money.

    It’s the standard political solution to everything: we need more money. And it doesn’t work.

    As Ian says, the best way to sort the scum out is simply to remove them.

  7. Philip Scott Thomas-

    Here’a a question. Why don’t we charge people to vote? Say, fifty quid. If the flavour of the next government isn’t worth fifty quid to you, it probably doesn’t matter very much to you. In fact, if we did that, we’d probably find out just how little value a vote really has.

  8. Ian B –

    A poll tax, in the American sense of the phrase?

    No. The full argument is probably too long for a comment, and anyway I’m supposed to be working, but briefly, voting is a basic human right. That is, it is a basic human right to select the bastards who will be telling me what I can and cannot do. Exercising that right shouldn’t have a cost (apart from the usual costs of time and travel, etc.).

  9. Because fifty pounds is worth more to some than others. You’ve got it the wrong way round – you should be allowed to sell your vote, not forced to pay to exercise it. That way if you don’t value your vote you can trade it in for beer tokens, and if you do you pay the opportunity cost to exercise it.

  10. In fact, if we did that, we’d probably find out just how little value a vote really has

    I suspect we’d also find out exactly how cheap our politician’s really are. But I agree with Philip, compromise on the basic principle and you’re lost.

    As a nasty additional though, what’s stopping the bastards raising the cost from something we could afford to, say £1 million. There are a few tycoons who could buy up a vote or two and nearly union could stump that up every 5 years (it’s only double a General Secretary’s salary, ffs, without perks or pension!)

  11. It was a thought experiment, rather than a serious policy, so the “Rights” thing doesn’t come into it. I was trying to emphasise that voting is of negligible value to most people. They only do it because it’s free.

  12. I think he just expressed himself poorly – my guess is what he had in mind is a corporation – say Vodafone – having a CEO who is paid by Vodafone customers, not in the indirect sense that they purchase services from Vodafone, but in the direct sense that they club together and bribe the CEO to set Vodafone call charges as cheap as possible (which is what Vodafone customers would like) to the detriment of Vodafone shareholders, who won’t make any money because the CEO is doing the bidding of Vodafone customers rather than serving the interests of Vodafone shareholders.

  13. “Limiting how much a donor can give to a politician is a limit on speech. And in a country that talks about free speech that speech ought to be, erm, free.”

    that’s terrible sophistry. it’s a strange form a “free speech” that’s available only to the wealthy. The rest of us don’t have the money to pay politicians to do what we’d like them to.

  14. LE
    It’s still an infringement of free speech, we don’t stop rich men from owning newspapers because the rest of us can’t afford it, so why stop them from donating large sums to political parties ? You can probably buy more influence through the media than through political donations.

  15. “so why stop them from donating large sums to political parties ?”

    um, because we don’t want the wealthy to have undue influence on the political process? this isn’t difficult to understand – do you think it’s a good thing that the rich and powerful have some much sway over the political process?

  16. are there people here who

    1. dislike politicians because they are corrupt

    but also

    2. dislike people complaining about corruption?

    how does that make sense? ah, it’s because it’s “lefties” complaining about corruption.

  17. Did I say it was a good thing ? Surely the wealthy have an undue influence over the political system whatever the system is, it doesn’t follow that it’s right to limit their freedom of action in where they spend their money. As others have pointed out the real problem here is that political parties are rapidly losing their legitimacy, they’ve ceased to be representative of the population at large and become little more than clubs for careerists, if they still had wider appeal the problem of undue influence would largely disappear. banning large donations and introducing state funding does nothing to change that.

  18. ere’a a question. Why don’t we charge people to vote? Say, fifty quid. If the flavour of the next government isn’t worth fifty quid to you, it probably doesn’t matter very much to you. In fact, if we did that, we’d probably find out just how little value a vote really has.

    I was trying to emphasise that voting is of negligible value to most people. They only do it because it’s free.

    Having the right to vote seems of great value to a great many people – some people have put themselves in danger for it.

    Just because something cannot be priced it does not mean it is of little value. It might be priceless. It might be that with the current shower you might not think you will get £50-worth in return. But in general of little value? No.

  19. if they still had wider appeal the problem of undue influence would largely disappear. banning large donations and introducing state funding does nothing to change that.

    How does “banning large donations” not reduce “undue influence”?

  20. ukliberty.

    Not sure if you’re asking me a question there but if so I worded that badly, I meant that banning large donations does nothing to change the problem of the disconnection between politics and the wider population which is the real problem.

  21. Thornavis, I screwed up the HTML.

    I agree that banning large donations does nothing to change the problem of disconnection.

    In the other thread, I expressed some disgust that the political parties don’t seem to want to improve connection but take our money regardless.

  22. Follow the Australian way, and charge people if they don’t vote. At least that way we end up with a government that the majority of the electorate have had a say in.

  23. it’s the whole structure of UK politics that is at fault. At the current time, I do not think that the 3 mainstream parties represent me very well at all, although there are people within those parties with whom I can find a large measure of agreement in private discussions.

    However, polics is now a career and to progress in this career, you need a government post, which means that you have to forfeit your right of individual thought and submit to the blancmange of modern UK party politics.

    The only means I have, as a private citizen, of showing my dissatisfaction is by spoiling my ballot paper – which is an empty, meaningless, ineffectual gesture unless everyone spoils their ballot – or by refusing to fund a political party.

    Is this what Wilkes and co fought for?

  24. Ian B –

    It was a thought experiment, rather than a serious policy, so the “Rights” thing doesn’t come into it. I was trying to emphasise that voting is of negligible value to most people. They only do it because it’s free.

    OK, point taken. But of course ‘the “Rights” thing’ comes into it. When we’re talking about infringements of liberty, whether prohibitions or compulsions, then the discussion starts and end with ‘the “Rights” thing’. I’ve been reading your stuff, here and at Cats, long enough to know you’re better than that.

  25. Ban large donations and political parties would be forced to seek donations and subscriptions from registered voters (some 47m). They would soon find ways of re-engaging ordinary people.

  26. Take away 99% of the political/bureaucratic porkers power and no one will pay them anything.

    Remember the old Libertarian creed:”A govt so small and powerless that no one cares who they are or how they got there”.

  27. Luis Enrique:

    Wow, there are so many un-proven assumptions in your comments that it’s difficult to know where to start.

    “…it’s a strange form a “free speech” that’s available only to the wealthy.”
    No. You mistake the substance for the accident, or, if you prefer, the substance for the form.

    All of us have the freedom to eat out at a restaurant. For some of us that means McDonalds. For a limited few of us that means Simpsons on the Strand or the Savoy Grill. Substance v. accident.

    “um, because we don’t want the wealthy to have undue influence on the political process?”
    Money is not the only influence on the political process. The power of the ballot box is not inconsiderable. It is event more important than donations.

    “do you think it’s a good thing that the rich and powerful have [so] much sway over the political process?”
    Whether I think it’s a good thing or a bad thing is irrelevant. The question is whether I have an influence on the political process apart from political donations. And the answer is, of course, yes, I do: my vote.

  28. Everyone remembers the Bostin Tea Party slogan “No taxation without representation”

    Fair enough.

    What about “no representation without taxation.” i.e. if you’re a benefoits claimain or a public sector employee you don’t get a vote..

    It might stop lefties getting into power having bribed the electorate with other people’s money…

  29. @PaulB

    I think that most people who go into politics do so in the belief that they can make the world a better place.

    Christ Almighty, the best argument for retro-active abortion I can imagine. Fuck off.

  30. I think that most people who go into politics do so in the belief that they can make the world a better place.

    No doubt many do. It’s defining “better” that’s the difficult part. Hitler tried to make the world a better place by ridding it of Jews. See the problem?

  31. Oh no! The bloody argumentum ad hitlerium again.
    (I suppose this is an improvement on the abortion post a while back, where it came in at comment 2 instead of 32.)
    But still, keep it clean lads, no hitting below the belt.
    Seconds out!

  32. @blokeinfrance

    Oh no! The bloody argumentum ad hitlerium again.

    Yes, but this is Ian B. Apart from the occasional D. H. Lawrence-like chip on his class-based shoulder, he is mostly sound. I’d be willing to cut him some slack here on this topic.

  33. Oh noes! A Godwin’s Law Nazi!

    The point was that many people do evil things because they believe they are making the world a better place. Which is why people who believe they can make the world a better place are very dangerous people indeed.

    If you’re not happy with Hitler, then substitute (depending on your own political persuasion) Attlee, Thatcher, or Blair.

    DH Lawrence? Upper class twat.

  34. That’ll teach me to slag off people I know absolutely nothing about before looking them up on Wikipedia, won’t it?

    Yes, bubba. You’re one of the Good Guys.

  35. Grumpy Old Man,

    Compulsory voting has made Australia the pork barrel capital of the world. Those who would not be inclined to vote if it were not compulsory are happy to sell their vote to the party offering the most “free” stuff. Politicians don’t even seem in the least bit ashamed of the blatant bribery which is targetted at marginals or loyal seats.

    Australian elections don’t involve a manifesto that is set out at the start of a campaign and then argued for. They consist of leaders going on tour and announcing some new spending on a daily basis, usually that will benefit the locals in which ever constituency they are in. We don’t really have a party that ideologically believes in small governement and low taxes, they all, to a greater or lesser extent, believe in spending money on their support base.

  36. Voting may be free, but the consequences of the wrong party getting in are very expensive! In fact the conseuences of either party getting in are pretty expensive. in fact there is really no point in voting because whomever you vote for, the government still gets in.

    So assuming we don’t want to indulge in violent revolution which has been demonstrated repeatedly to make bad situations worse, the only course of action is repeated, intense protest – time to hit the streets lads and make ourselves heard.

  37. He’s saved a few bob, Matthew L, and upset some luvvies but when campaigning was pretty much true to the standard practice of making spending promises as he travelled up and down the state. We’ll see if he can knuckle down and save some real money, as a Queensland resident I hope so.

  38. voting is a basic human right.

    No it isn’t. And neither is free speech.

    1. Human rights are nonsense on stilts.

    2. http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/against-political-freedom.html

    “Having the right to vote seems of great value to a great many people – some people have put themselves in danger for it.”

    Indeed. Bruce Charlton likes to point out that libertarianism won’t get anywhere because it can’t get people to fight and die for it. Not sure he’s right about it, but it’s a good point: a cause won’t get anywhere unless people are willing to fight and die for your it.

  39. 36 Ian B // Apr 16, 2012 at 10:12 pm
    DH Lawrence? Upper class twat.

    37 Ian B // Apr 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm
    That’ll teach me to slag off people I know absolutely nothing about before looking them up on Wikipedia, won’t it?

    Posthumous class mobility is evidently doing well in modern Britain.

  40. “voting is a basic human right.

    No it isn’t. And neither is free speech.”

    You’d better have have a word with the UN then:

    Article 19.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    Article 21.

    (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
    (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
    (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

  41. James James –

    voting is a basic human right.
    No it isn’t.

    Oh, yes it is. Here’s the argument for the hard of thinking.

    I am a human being. I am therefore free, the slave of none, the master of none. I am free to go where I wish, do what I wish when I whish. And if I lived on a desert island (with or without my 8 disks, my book and my luxury) I would be free to exercise that freedom to whatever extent I wished.

    Like most of us, however, I find it beneficial to live in the company of others, i.e., in society. And those others amongst whom I choose to live are also human beings with the same freedoms as I have. We, all of us, have for instance the freedom to be secure in our homes without the fear of intruders. In order to gain the advantage of living in the society of other free human beings I must therefore, give up some of the exercise of my freedoms. I cannot, for instance, go where I wish if going where I wish involves entering your home. The exercise of my freedom must be constrained.

    That is the purpose of governments – to make up the rules concerning the exercise of my freedoms. Mind, I still have the freedoms. And if I were to go to that mythical desert island the restraints on its exercise would cease to exist. But while I remain in the company of men, that exercise must be constrained. So governments make rules about the restraints of the excerise of my freedoms. That is, they decide what I must and must not do in order to live peaceably amongst men. As Tim so frequently has to point out, there are no solutions; there are only trade-offs. For me, the trade-off is between the advantages of living in society and the exercise of my freedoms. So I acknowledge the authority of the government to curb that exercise the better that we may live together in harmony.

    But consenting to give a third party the right to tell me what I must and must not do implies the right to withdraw consent. The only way to grant or withdraw consent, short of moving back to the desert island whence I started, is through the ballot box.In other words, if someone, or some group of someones, is going to tell me what I must and must not do, then I have a basic right to have a voice in deciding who those someones are.

    Anything less is called tyranny.

  42. I think most people would interpret your emphatic statement as one of fact rather than opinion, James James.

  43. It is my opinion that it is a fact, ha ha.

    My take is Moldbuggian. As long as you can leave a country and take your property with you, you are not a slave. The state owns its territory, and has no obligation to grant you a vote in how the state is run, or to allow free speech. If you don’t like it you can leave.

    All this social contract “consenting to give a third party the right to tell me what I must and must not do” is guff. You don’t grant the state rights; it has them de facto already. By remaining in a country, you’re giving de facto consent. The fact that you were born here is irrelevant.

  44. The argument about how political parties are funded and to what extent they are influenced by money is putting the cart before the horse. There’s an old story about bank robber Willie Sutton. He was asked, “Willie, why do you rob banks?” His reply: “because that’s where the money is.” The reason it is a sound strategy to attempt to bribe politicians is that that is where the power is. If their influence was curbed – and I mean utterly, drastically curbed, to the point where they had essentially no substantive control over the day-to-day lives of people – then they would cease to be a rational target for lobbying and rent-seeking.

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