Monday, March 24, 2014

The Market for Voting

What does a capitalist renaissance look like? Most self-identified "conservatives" want some kind of a return to the original Constitution. That means no income tax, and usually no direct election of senators. Whether it includes voting rights for adults under 21, women, and former slaves (or even legal slavery) is not clear. The broad course of history suggests that no restoration ever brings back the past.  

Owned by Nanking University.
Preferred stock usually comes without voting rights.
The Italian Renaissance did not return crucifixion as a mode of execution; neither did it bring back slavery - or the Latin language. In fact, a key element to the Quattrocento was the validation of vernaculars in the former Roman lands and Germania.  Even so, Latin remained a common language. Carl Friedrich Gauss published Theoria residuorum biquadraticorum, Commentatio secunda in 1832. (It was then translated into German.) However, in 1843, he offered Untersuchungen über Gegenstände der Höheren Geodäsie - Erste Abhandlung.  So, the world of 2076 or 2189 might have constitutional republics, complete with national flags, and local languages.

Owned by a woman
in her own right
60 years
she could have voted
in a political election.
I see something else on the horizon.

(This post was edited from comments made on the "Galt's Gulch" discussion board of the Atlas Shrugged movie producers.)

The 1909 novel The Secret of the League: The Story of a Social War by Ernest Bramah has been suggested as a forerunner of Atlas Shrugged.  In the final resolution, voting in national elections is given the form of voting in a joint-stock company: one share, one vote.  Shares in that story cost ₤500 (like $250,000 now, perhaps).  In a capitalist future, buying a voting share would be proof of citizenship; and it would nullify the status of "illegal alien." 

The same theory applies here: you buy in, you buy citizenship. And it applies to children. When Herbert Spencer was really a liberal in the 1830s, he advocated for voting rights for children: they work; they pay taxes; they should vote. QED. 

Moreover, shares (citizenship) could be bought and sold repeatedly. The price of a vote would rise close to elections and fall in the off season. People could change "citizenship" i.e., voting rights often, repeatedly, and for a profit (buy low, sell high). In point of fact voting for President of the USA is not cost-effective but voting in the Mayoral Primary is highly important. So, the shrewd citizen should sell their vote before the one and buy it back before the other. 

But it would not be a permanent consequence. Why is citizenship different from any other service or commodity? 

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