Aasof on democratic government
Dec 21, 2019Posted by on
This week on Facebook: I thought that I might find an answer to why governments don’t behave democratically! The somewhat obvious answer I arrive at is the possession of wealth, but this is not the primary factor according to the Pew Research Centre. In a democracy, which I post a lot about, you would expect the democratic process involve the electorate who vote politicians into office and in one sense it does. However the electorate is made up of voters who each have their own (usually selfish) reasons¹ for voting in the way that they do. Whether they hold capitalist or socialist views², these selfish reasons are usually a share in (however small) political views³ guaranteed in any political system and access to the political power held.
Keynes premised that the accumulation of capital through the power of investment was the main justification for the Capitalist System. An accumulation of capital only made possible through the unequal distribution of wealth. Capitalist, like bees, saved and accumulated, those less fortunate only benefited when able to service less needs. The Economic Consequences of the Peace
Peace never came! So what were the consequences?
Nobody, in 1900, speculating on the future of government, could have imagined the astonishing growth and scope of public services in the 20th century. Nor would they have imagined that, for many people, this gigantic state provision would seem the very essence of efficiency, compassion, and modernity. The era of the welfare state did not start, of course, in 1948 and the creation of the NHS. It started decades before. UK Public Spending Since 1900
Perhaps its all about the governments commitment to deficit financing?
But despite its ominous reputation, the national debt is not all that it seems. The national debt is simply the sum total of all the government’s IOUs – the promises it has made to pay money back in future, plus an agreed amount of interest. Unlike a household, the UK government has its own central bank and its own sovereign currency. This means that the government borrows and spends in a currency that it controls. Here’s where things get interesting. There is a magic money tree — don’t let politicians tell you otherwise
What part does political opportunism play?
Something has gone badly awry with Social democrat in recent years. Not so long ago, government by centre-left parties seemed almost to be the natural order of affairs in stable and prosperous economies. Today the position is very different, as voters have turned their backs. Today the position is very different, as voters have turned their back on them across much of the West. Where such parties have fared better — as in the UK – this tends to be associated with a shift towards a more radical left-wing platform. What has caused this collapse in support for centrist policies? Left Behind: Why voters deserted social democracy – and how to win them back
What part does the law play?
At some point if all demands are met, there will be so few people left out that we might ask ourselves what was wrong with having one law for all. If we were asked to name one defining characteristic of a free society most of us would single out impartial justice — clear laws that apply equally to all and that are applied by independent judges sworn to act without fear or favour, malice or ill will. We’re Nearly All Victims Now!: How the politics of victimhood is undermining our liberal culture
What part does corruption play?
It’s a well observed trend that as the economy tightens, ethical standards slip. Meanwhile, the impact of austerity on some of the UK’s advisory bodies, cuts to the police and Crown Prosecution Service, mean that UK corruption and fraud is currently unlikely to get investigated, let alone prosecuted. The UK is becoming more corrupt and our democracy is at stake
1. Despite global concerns about democracy, more than half of countries are democratic: Concern has been growing for the past several years about the future of democracy, and there is considerable dissatisfaction in many countries with how democracy is working in practice. But public support for democratic ideals remains strong, and by one measure, global democracy is at or near a modern-day high.
2. Why Do Democracies Fail? The non-rich always outnumber the rich. Democracy enables the many to outvote the few: a profoundly threatening prospect to the few. If the few possess power and wealth, they may respond to this prospect by resisting democracy before it arrives—or sabotaging it afterward.
3. How community groups can rebuild trust in democracy: So we are calling on government to encourage and enable voluntary work for those not already involved, recognising and supporting the powerful role community groups have in building trust. The Government’s commitment to enabling more volunteering through employers could be a real force for change towards this aspiration, especially if it means more volunteering at a very local level.
4. Why British people don’t trust the government any more – and what can be done about it: Addressing the current mistrust of government does not mean rolling back the state, but rather putting the emphasis on social provision that is seen to be fair. Stressing the positive contribution of the welfare state by promoting social investment is a possible way forward.
5. The Case Against Democracy: “The worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time,” as Churchill famously said. So, if we value its power to make good decisions, why not try a system that’s a little less fair but makes good decisions even more often?
¹Democracy v Psychology — why people keep electing idiots (url): Politicians. Their reputation is very poor. In fairness, this is largely their own fault, but it would be foolish to assume every politician is like this. If they were, the whole infrastructure would collapse before you could say “can I claim this on expenses?” Still, everyone assumes they’re despicable, so always assume the worst.
²Sex, Lies and Politics (url/book): Elections aren’t just important – they are revealing. They tell us things about who we are and how we behave. Written by leading political experts, Sex, Lies and Politics reveals what really makes us tick.
³Votes of Idiots (url): Of course, this is about the time democracy fans will throw out the old Churchill saw: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” But few realize that Churchill quickly added: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”