Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Democracy, You’re Doing It Wrong!

I believe people mostly politicians don’t really understand why democracy exists. Its sole purpose is to prevent governments from becoming too powerful. People should not be in fear of their government rather the government should be in fear of the people. Its secondary function is to throw out a government that has either been in power “too long” or its policies no longer align with majority voter opinion.

Parliamentary democracy has always been adversarial. You have a “right-wing” party, a “left-wing” party, maybe a centrist party and a light sprinkling of minor parties. In a country such as Australia we have a regular political cycle giving each major party their turn in office every 7 to 10 years. The same is true of a number of large democracies.

It seems to me that recently both the liberal and labour parties in Australia seem to have quite different agendas. When one party gets in they scrap a bunch of the dethroned party’s policies and completely reverse others. There doesn’t seem to be much logic to some of these decisions other than: we think the guys who voted us in would like it.

Compare the way we run a country to the way a team of doctors fights a nasty disease in a patient. Members of the medical profession are always talking about best practice. They continually develop new techniques and improve others to improve patient outcomes. They use science proving that certain treatments work while others probably do more harm than good.

You never hear about politicians talking about best practice when it comes to running a country. Why not? There are so many tools that have been developed to assist leaders in other sectors such as business, science and industry. Why can’t we create an economic stimulation of the world and test various ideas to see if they will work before implementation. I think it would be easier to create something like this than some climate models.

They should study what happens in other countries when they implement legislation. For example maybe several countries in Europe legalised marijuana. Did usage rates go up and down in these countries? How much money did those governments make by taxing marijuana? What happened to the Marijuana related crime rate? Would our leaders even consider legalising marijuana even if it was a massive success in all these countries? Probably not, because it would, “send the wrong message to our youth.” Politicians will use emotional catchphrases as a basis for legislation ahead of logic and science - every time.

An example of boneheaded legislation is the current affordability of housing. You will hear many politicians rabbiting on about housing availability and affordability. The Howard government even introduced the first home buyers grant to help people buy property. What a nice government - stupid government. All this ridiculous example of middle-class welfare did was to bring even more people into the housing market further pushing up prices.

Meanwhile the moderately wealthy were negatively gearing their investment properties reducing the amount of tax they paid from their day job. Negative gearing is the primary force pushing house prices up. The best thing the Howard government could have done is to axe negative gearing of investment properties. Yeah some Liberal voters would have been pissed off but it would have been the right thing to do. Now it’s too late I really don’t know what could be done about housing prices that wouldn’t utterly destroy the rest of the economy. And the banks? Well, they are laughing all the way to the bank. (Sorry I had to.) What this sounds like to me is government putting the interests of big business and the rich above the needs of the majority.

Over the past year we have seen politicians from both sides fall like dominoes from official corruption enquiries. The stupidity of some of these politicians is breathtaking. To top it all off we hear about fundraising activities that give the richest Australians direct access to our most powerful politicians. I believe we need to abolish this sort of political fundraising. With social media the cost of getting your word out has reduced to almost nothing. We could properly eliminate all political fundraising above $100. Just an idea.

I personally look forward to the day when we are led by an intelligent supercomputer.

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