Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Who Are Your True Representatives?


Ever watch Tosh.O?  A while back he made this statement regarding politics..."The idea that any of these candidates represent my interests is absurd."  So who are Tosh's true representatives?

From my perspective, it seems pretty straightforward that whoever Tosh gives his money to are the people who represent his interests.  Because, it wouldn't make sense for Tosh to give his money to somebody who didn't represent any of his interests.  What does make sense though is that the more money he gives to somebody...the greater he values their representation.

With that in mind...what percentage of your income do you voluntarily give to politicians?  Honestly I've never voluntarily given any of my money to any politicians.  That's why it's a funny joke when Tosh pointed out how absurd it is to refer to politicians as representatives.  Yet, it's not funny when people who do not represent my interests get to spend my money.  But maybe it's my fault for not voting?  Or maybe the problem is that the power of voting is diminished by all the money in politics?

We engage in two types of voting...literal and figurative.  Literal voting is conducted with ballots while figurative voting is conducted with dollars.  How often do you engage in each type of voting?  Personally, every day I engage in figurative voting...I give my money...the product of my labor...to the people who represent my interests.  This is why taxpayers are our true representatives.  

Yet, even though we all figuratively vote for taxpayers on a daily basis...and even though we voluntarily give them considerably more of our money than we voluntarily give to congresspeople...it's extremely difficult to persuade people that our true representatives should have the freedom to choose which government organizations they give their taxes to.  This problem boils down to failing to understand economics.

Figurative voting involves sacrifice...while literal voting does not.  When you spend your money on one thing...you can't spend that money on another thing...
By contrast, if a consumer wants a new TV set and a new washing machine and he can afford only one of these without drawing on his savings (which he dislikes), he is in a cross-road situation. He must deliberate until he arrives at a decision as to which course of action he prefers. Thus, while we have reason to assume that preference functions for alternative uses of private funds (including the savings alternative) have some firmness and consistency, our findings raise doubt whether the corresponding concept of a preference function for alternative fiscal policies is fruitful. - Eva Mueller, Public Attitudes Toward Fiscal Programs
Figurative voting requires that you decide between a new TV and a new washing machine.  Literal voting does not require that you spend any money.  You can simply indicate on a ballot that you support the candidate that promises you both a new TV and a new washing machine.  That's why figurative voting holds infinitely more weight than literal voting.  Figurative voting reveals your actual priorities and all our priorities determine how resources are used.  That's how economics works.  If you take our true priorities out of the picture...then resources will be misallocated...which leads to recessions and/or depressions.

Let's go back to your cross-road situation.  What happens if you choose to spend your money on a TV?  Then you would be figuratively voting for all the taxpayers who produced/supplied that TV.  For simplicity sake we'll refer to all of them as Mr. TV.  You would be indicating with your hard earned money that Mr. TV represents a portion of your interests.  In a pragmatarian system, Mr. TV would then take a portion of his income and choose which government organizations he gave his taxes to.

Which government organizations would he give his taxes to?  He'd give his taxes to whichever government organizations represent his interests...just like you give your money to whichever private organizations represent your interests.  It stands to reason though...that Mr. TV would be motivated to give his taxes to whichever government organizations help him represent your interest.  This is because your interest is his livelihood.  For example, if he doesn't give any of his taxes to repairing the roads...then you won't be able to drive to his store to purchase his TV.

So the next time you spend your money...please try and understand that you are figuratively voting for your true representatives.  If you value your interests...then you will support giving your true representatives the freedom to use their taxes to better serve your interests.  Nobody knows your interests better than they do.

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