Do you want to dine on Happy Meals three times a day, seven days a week? It’s easily done: Just let your kids vote on where you will be eating. Even though you’ll have to pay for everything, if you give your children an equal vote in the family’s decision-making, your every meal will feature a smelly rubber toy.
This is the key defect of democracy, as we saw in this week’s presidential election. Some people pay far more than they get back from the state, while others get back much more than they pay. Even so, each one of us gets an equal say in how the national treasury is to be disbursed. In what should be a surprise to no one, the net tax-payers end up buying a lot of smelly rubber toys for the net tax-consumers.
This is not news. The Greeks understood that a democracy will self-destruct if voters are given cost-free access to the treasury. There are other ways to corrupt a representative government, but when a majority of the voters come to be net tax-consumers, rather than net tax-payers, the body politic will cannibalize itself.
This is why the franchise in the 1789 U.S. Constitution was limited to land-owners. The ideas was to visit the costs of government on the people who would be paying for it.
Want to cut spending and cut taxes? Want to limit waste, fraud and abuse in government spending? Want to make legislators and tax-collectors responsive to tax-payers? All that is easily done. Just stop letting the kiddies vote on whose money to waste on dinner.
If the power to vote in federal elections were limited to people who send more money in to Washington than comes back to them, then all national elections would be decided only by net tax-payers. The net tax-consumers would get whatever free goodies the tax-payers bought for them, just as your kids still get dinner even when they don’t get a smelly rubber Happy Meal toy. But we would eliminate the current circumstance, where tax-consumers have zero incentive to provide for themselves, since they can vote for all the free stuff they want.
Fine, but who bells the cat? It’s obvious that letting people who aren’t paying for dinner pick the restaurant is grossly unfair to the people who are paying for that dinner. But given that we are where we are, how can we get back to a saner kind of franchise?
By going on strike.
Just now a lot of people are nattering about “Going Galt” — by which they mean emulating the heroes of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. In that book, the “men of the mind” go on strike against a tyranny much like the one we are waking up to, day by day. They withdraw to a secret civilization of their own, miraculously hidden from discovery by an implausible plot device. As it turns out, there are a couple of problems with that idea.
For one thing, Atlas Shrugged is fiction. It accelerates the process of economic collapse in order to make the story more interesting. In real life, Atlas shrugs when young people stop striving for success and instead become aimless slackers — strangely resembling the glassy-eyed Happy Meal eaters infesting your basement.
For another, people of means will tend to cling to their dwindling assets until their despoilers pry the last of their wealth from their cold, dead fingers. They may divert their investments into less-exposed positions, but they are not going to give up everything they have to make a political point.
But a strike is not an all-or-nothing proposition. When I spoke at The 21 Convention, I mentioned the idea of establishing John Galt Day as a day of leisure for productive people. I suggested doing this on June 1st of every year, in emulation of the day Galt and his friends set aside for each other.
In order to effect serious changes in the American electorate, a more strident demonstration will be necessary. The first Monday of every month would be an ideal place to start. If everyone who is sick to death of being soaked to pay for other people’s dinner were to go on strike for that one day of the month — producing no wealth and therefore generating no tax liability — this would send a potent message to Washington.
It doesn’t pay to be subtle about this. If you choose not to work on John Galt Day, you should be sure to send an email saying so to your congressman and both of your senators — every month. They think they can count on you to bear any load they pile onto your shoulders. You need to let them know that this is not true.
What if one John Galt Day a month is not enough? Graduate to two days a month, or perhaps one day a week. The goal is to let your would-be despoilers know that they work for you, not the other way around.
What if they won’t catch a clue? You can pretty much figure that the game is lost when you find yourself parked on a ratty sofa, down in the basement with your kids.
If you want to avoid that fate — if you want to hang onto the abundant blessings of Western Civilization — you need to work to recast the voter rolls so that the people setting the state’s agenda are the ones who are paying the state’s costs. As long as the people establishiing the menu for dinner are not the ones paying for that dinner, America will continue its aimless descent toward total economic collapse.