Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Universal Suffrage, Pragmatarianism and the War On Drugs


Let's evaluate the two steps of the democratic process using the war on drugs as our example. Drugs are bad mmm'kay?

Step one involves the process of deciding whether or not drugs should be legal. Should kids be allowed to participate in this process? Here are some of the factors which are completely immaterial to whether they should be allowed to vote...
  1. whether they would vote for or against legalization
  2. whether they had enough information to make an "informed" decision
  3. whether they had enough life experience
  4. whether they pay taxes
Every argument against kids voting is an argument that we can make against adults voting. Voting is just the right to try and protect one's interests. Everybody should have the right to try and protect their interests...irrespective of all other factors. The only limitations should be that a voter must be a resident and that they cannot be accompanied in the voting booth.

So here we have the tug of war contest between two sides. It makes sense that we would want the side that cares the most to win. Therefore, it would be counterproductive to limit campaign contributions or to limit how many people volunteer for campaigns or to limit how many hours they can volunteer for. The amount of time/money that people contribute reflects how much they care about the issue.

In order to decide which side "wins" or "loses" the democratic contest we take a vote.

Step two of the democratic process involves funding the outcome…in this case…the war against drugs. Currently, both sides of the debate have to pay for the war against drugs. It's completely bizarre that people who believe that drugs should be legal have to help fund the war against drugs. It adds insult to injury and results in taxes being put in the same category as death.

So how do we decide how much money should be allocated to the war against drugs? Currently we have representatives making those decisions. The problem is that there's no way they can know the optimal level of funding for the war on drugs. It's impossible. They have no idea how many other public goods people would be willing to forgo in order to support the war on drugs.  In economic terms this is known as opportunity cost.

If any taxpayers feel that congress is not accurately representing their values then they should be able to individually decide what percentage of their taxes the war on drugs should receive. If anybody felt that the way on drugs wasn't receiving enough money…then they would be more than welcome to "donate" additional money to the war on drugs. They could also "donate" additional time by trying to convince others why it's important for them to "donate" more of their taxes to the war against drugs.

The beauty of pragmatarianism is that taxpayers would…
  1. …be transformed into donors supporting public goods.
  2. …have the opportunity to directly support the causes that they care about
  3. …only pay for results
The focus would switch from cutting to contributing.

The point is that everybody should be allowed to vote and everybody should be allowed to directly fund the public goods that they value. The bottom line for step one is that arguing against kids voting is the same thing as arguing against adults voting. The bottom line for step two is that arguing against pragmatarianism is the same thing as arguing against results.

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