Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Democracy gets a facelift from its billionaire buddie, capitalism

Democracy and capitalism have always been pals. They formed their friendship over shared respect for the voice of the people and the brave notion that an individual can make a difference and succeed based on his or her natural abilities. Today, an experiment will commence to see how these two political and economic ideologies can fuse to become more than just vague ideals and rallying points for proponents of "freedom".

No longer will we walk away from the poll booths shaking our heads in mild wonder, dumbfounded at the political jargon that attempts to sway us into believing that our one vote will make a difference. One voice, one vote. Equality. But doesn't capitalism teach us that the most enterprising, the most innovative, the most strategically adept participant will be rewarded with the most wealth and power? Does the idea that each vote is equal, regardless of the mental capability or the level of apathy of the individual, really jive with a system that rewards excellence? Democracy champions rights and freedoms distributed with equality and equity to the entire population, while capitalism throws its clout behind the best and the brightest. Can these two ideas be reconciled?

What is your vote really worth?

We here at creepydudesfromthebasement are going to test exactly that: the economic value of a single vote.

An IRL friend of the creepydudes has been a staunch non-voter since turning of age, much to the dismay of the author, and after being repeatedly bashed over the head with arguments from all sides as to why his apathy gunked up the democratic system we all know and love, he has decided to sell his vote for the next federal election!

So let the bidding commence. Can both of our systems exist in terms of the other? Democracy in terms of capitalism, votes for money... in the perfect system of supply and demand, which governs itself based on sellers having an abundance of something and buyers being in want, wouldn't it make sense that the votes would transfer from the hands of those who are politically apathetic or ignorant and do not care to have a vote to those who are passionate and politically educated and who deserve a louder voice?

I start the bidding at $1 CAD.




RikkiDee said...

great post

I've thought about this a lot personally and I'm not sure if I've ever read a more concise and well put view point.

I don't vote. Never have, never will. You touched on the reason why I don't at the end there - the equality each individual vote regardless of knowledge or passion.

I have an political ideology that will never be accepted by the masses because it requires thought and research to understand. I've tried explaining it to peers but without some background knowledge I come off sounding like an ignorant heartless asshole.

The other reason I don't vote is because my individual vote has no value. Ok I should rephrase that, since that is what you are trying to determine here.

My vote has less value than the time it would take me to do it. Much less value indeed. Regardless of what ideologies are available to vote on, the result to me is meaningless because my vote simply doesn't matter.

It actually doesn't. And as ignorant as it sounds, one vote has never, nor will ever make a difference on a microcosmic level.

So since my vote doesn't make a difference, and even if it did no one would support my ideologies anyways, you can have my vote for $1.

Sorry for the blog post.

RikkiDee said...

I should also say that I think the idea of selling your vote is a great one and fits perfectly within the capitalist model. And I don't mean the persuasion of votes through kickbacks and free miniature flags, I mean an actual vote ebay site in which to sell votes.

I'd imagine the first million votes would sell for less than $5.

Joe said...

A lot of people say: "If you didn't vote, then you don't have the right to complain about the government that was elected". I think a statement like that misses the mark and should be changed to "if you are complaining about the government and not doing something, then you should shut up", and by "doing something" I mean volunteering for a political campaign, participating in community groups, writing letters (naive, I know, but it is *something*).

The point is, one vote is a rounding error, but the energy and idealism of one person can help to sway many votes if they are focused in the right direction.

BTW if ppl are interested in calculating the cost of one vote in the US, you can look at the massive fundraising being done by the 2008 Presidential candidates for the nomination process, and divide by the number of votes it takes to win. From wiki:

'In January 2007, Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael Toner estimated that the 2008 race will be a "$1 billion election," and that to be "taken seriously," a candidate will need to raise at least $100 million by the end of 2007.'

$1 CDN looks like a bargain ;)

shibby said...

I picked out the picture, and i am quite proud of it. Thats a picture of me. (middle right)

and thats pretty much all i have to say about that...

o..and im actually selling my vote, i will have the official paperwork in september


Lauren said...

rikki... so you are not a huge supporter of democracy in its current incarnation eh? Everyone has the right to vote, even the ignorant. Even those who simply do not care, and who X the third candidate from the bottom because her name is spelled cool. I think that there is something wrong with a system that allows voter education to be null.

Would there be anything that could entice you to vote? Switzerland allows its citizens to vote roughly 4 times a year on all sorts of issues (a direct democracy... the policy is affected directly by the results of each vote, without the "middlemen" always having to be involved), is this better? worse? maybe no different really; if people don't care about the issues in a system which filters the voice through elected representatives, why would they care if their voice was being filtered through even more bogged down voting systems...

Joe, I totally buy the argument that a single vote is too insignificant of a variable to include in any calculation of whether or not you have influence. One vote may not make a difference, but one voice can if it is passionate enough. What if the entire population were encouraged to be impassioned?

I don't want to believe democracy is a lost cause, but as the world becomes more global and more voices (the ignorant and the intelligent alike) are mingling together, there has to be some sort of filtration system which separates those who are out of tune from those who are writing the symphonies of change.

Lauren said...

ps i'm still in the lead with a dolla for shibby's vote... come on gdm shouldnt you be pulling out the bling right about now? :P

tmac said...

Democracy provides sort of a check and balance on the power of capitalism - without it, money would rule the world and power would be concentrated in the hands of the rich. I think the beauty of these two systems is how much they complement each other - capitalism provides incentive to use your intellect and increase the collective well being of everyone (I know some people will argue this point) through productvity gains and lifestyle improvements, but if we allowed votes to be monetized, then the power would end up in the hands of the rich who could corrupt our 'free' society however they so choose. The absolute worst thing that could happen is for votes to have their own market.

hax.obv said...

$1.25 if u v0te 4 teh ron paul