A democratic pain in the neck

I was watching a BBC news report on the elections in South Africa (a country that can manage both the IPL as well as a general election, unlike India). The ANC has ruled the country for the past decade and a half and Zuma is supposed to win hands down. However, in the report I refer to, a poor (as in wealth) woman said that she was voting for another party. Why? Because the ANC didn’t provide “jobs” and “power” (electricity, I presume). This is the main problem with democracy (any form of government actually – the French did chop off their king’s head – but more with democracy). What is the “role” of the State? Why does it exist? What is voting all about? I know of cases where people have voted for the opposition party because the present government moved their workplace to a far off location causing them to commute over longer distances. Is this a reason?

A government, if it is to exist at all, should only concern itself with law and order and defense – paid for by voluntary taxation. But a “welfare state” goes much beyond that. In the name of “the common good,” it engages in uncivilized, criminal behavior. An old idiom that I encountered again recently goes – “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That’s what the “welfare state” is all about. It’s currently on display in Britain as the Chancellor of the Exchequer presented a budget with a massive deficit and a 50% tax on incomes about UKP 150,000. He will be spending the money on crazy items of all kinds including subsidies to businesses to hire jobless people in the 18-24 age group, schemes to offer rebates to people so that they can scrap cars that are in good condition and buy new ones, and paying toothbrush advisors and ceremonial sword bearers. No, the last one was part of the “stimulus”. (Correction: Its wastage of the regular kind.) Yes, because all expenses have to be paid for, somehow. Not to forget all the crazy Orwellian surveillance ideas that will cost billions of pounds. And the same kind of people who change their vote because they didn’t get jobs or had their workplaces shifted also write stuff like this-

Huge gap and inequality in income and property between the working class, and the privileged, leads to more violent crimes, misery and instability in any society. The tax is supposed to be that moderator, and a stabilizer. Up with the tax on the rich!

This fellow is right in a way – not morally but “practically.” The same argument was made by the economics professor in the Economist debate I linked to last time. Pay the protection money, now, or face the mob.

Unless all the people in society – especially the “educated” middle class – understand what government is all about, we will continue to have a game of musical chairs being played – with “social engineers” and special interests of every kind influencing all our lives. That is what democracy is all about – a state of perpetual war minus the blood.

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