Does the US election system need an overhaul? - The Daily Reckoning
The Daily Reckoning by Bill Bonner
On This Day - 9 November 2012
Does the US election system need an overhaul? A  A  A

Baltimore, Maryland

Dow down another 121 points. Gold up $12.

That puts the Dow down more than 400 points since the election results were announced. What does it mean?

Maybe nothing. Maybe it's the beginning of the long march to the bottom that we've been waiting for. Unless they've got a very long term perspective, dear readers should be out of stocks. Wait for them to get down to bargain levels before buying back in...what's the hurry?

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Meanwhile, we spent 8 hours driving down from Burlington yesterday. That gave us plenty of time to listen to the radio and catch up on the news. We listened to CNN most of the time. Very depressing.

For hours on end, the CNN team worried about the election results. There was almost endless discussion of the roles played by the outside organizations, big donors, and campaign advertising. Experts criticized the Republican's strategy. And most were very critical of the US presidential election system. The electoral college seems to give some voters - those in 'swing' states - more importance than those in other states. And looking at a map of results by county, which turned into an obsession with the CNN crew, you will see that almost the entire nation is red...while the winner of the election is blue.

Every expert, layman and kibitzer allowed to express an opinion had the same one: that something is wrong with the system. All seemed to think that every vote should have exactly the same weight as every other vote. But how could this be? Inevitably, a close race will give greater importance to the few voters who are still on the fence...since they will determine the outcome.

"Everything happens at the margin," John Maynard Keynes once said. He was speaking of economics. But it is true in politics too. Some people will definitely and always vote the democrats' ticket. Others will vote republican, come what may. The people who decide the outcome are somewhere in-between...capable of being swayed one way or the other depending on the candidates' charisma, policies or bribery.

Most commentators wanted to make the system simpler, so that the winner would be chosen by majority of the popular vote.

But we wonder: why should one person's vote count as much as another's? What is sacrosanct about the one man, one vote principle?

Yesterday, we explained that zombies shouldn't vote at all. People who get money from the government should abstain; they have a conflict of interest. Naturally, the zombies vote for more blood. And now, there are so many of them, it's impossible to stop them.

And what about people who haven't bothered to read the paper or inform themselves about the issues? We admit; such people are usually way ahead of the common, brainwashed voter...but for the sake of argument, shouldn't the informed voter's vote be worth more than the uninformed voter's vote?

People who don't pay taxes shouldn't be allowed to vote either. Golf memberships...clubs...corporations - almost all require that your dues be paid up before you have the right to vote.

Come to think of it, how come the government doesn't operate on a "let them who pay the piper call the tune" basis? Why don't the people who actually pay the costs of government get more say in how it is conducted? Why don't they get more votes than people who pay nothing? You might get one vote for every $1,000 you pay in taxes, for example. If you pay nothing, you get no vote. If you pay $1 million, you get 1,000 votes. Wouldn't that be fairer?

Or, how about this: auction votes on the internet! You just put out, say, 100 million votes. Make them available by national auction. And then voters get to decide for themselves how much they are worth...and how many they are willing to buy. You have an election every year...and give the proceeds to the government.

You could allow for a market in votes. Vote scalpers could buy votes in block early...and then sell them off to desperate voters on election day.

Yes...let's have an honest election, for a change!

Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.

The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Equitymaster do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site.

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2 Responses to "Does the US election system need an overhaul?"

Hasit Hemani

Nov 11, 2012

Like all big estate or property, Democracy is also an edifice which requires regular maintenance to keep it working efficiently. An array of honest and selfless people as watch dog is the prime necessity. Any sort of corruption or unethical practices should be dealt speedily and severely. American democracy has reduced to play of money and hi-fi oratory. It requires swift overhaul. The political leaders should have a moral attitude and courage to undertake even unpopular measures for the betterment of the society and country. Democracy is good only if it is run by honest and selfless people, otherwise it will turn into a free for all plunderers.


R N Gandhi

Nov 9, 2012

Suggestion that eligibility to vote should be based on tax paying capacity is absolutely absured. It amounts to marketing. Just as marketing has disturbed family harmony this suggestion will disturb social harmony at large. Evolution of democracy should be such that as far as possible it ought to have no evil effect on the relationship between rich and poor. Capitalists thought would be worst thing for vote deciding factor.

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