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Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Voting Scam Revisited

According to Google Analytics, The Voting Scam is my #10 all-time most popular post. (For a long time it was #2, but it dropped.) In the blogosphere, posts older than a few days don't attract attention. I'm publishing an updated version of this post on the one year anniversary of the original. I'm better at explaining since writing my original post.

I consider the Compound Interest Paradox and the Voting Scam to be the two key arguments against the current economic and political system. The Compound Interest Paradox explains the fundamental defect in the US monetary system. The Voting Scam explains why this problem cannot be fixed by voting or by any elected politician.

When I first wrote this post, I hadn't discovered agorism. I hadn't yet come to the conclusion that agorism/anarchism is the only morally defensible philosophy.

The average person does not vote at all. They have correctly figured out that voting is a waste of time. It's more productive to spend an hour on some other useful activity, rather than spending an hour voting.

Voting is a lie that's used to trick people into complacency. The argument is "If you don't like the way things are, then vote for someone else." However, the two mainstream candidates are usually both lousy. Typically, both candidates are funded by the same wealthy insiders. The only difference is that the candidate who is more likely to win receives a larger bribe.

For example, in the Presidential election of 1912, all three candidates were advocates for a banking reform bill. All three bills had nearly identical language. This banking reform bill created the Federal Reserve.

People who want to cause social change and improvements have their energy funneled into the wasteful activity of voting and advocating for specific candidates.

There's another problem with voting. Via elections, people can only voice their frustrations every 2 or 4 years. With other resistance methods, such as agorism, you're making progress all the time.

Voting provides people the illusion they control the government and elected politicians, without providing any meaningful control. Further, most politicians will try for small incremental change. These small incremental changes usually correlate with an increase in State power, and not a reduction in State power. No politician can successfully accomplish radical change. There are too many people dependent on the current corrupt system for subsidies.

Here's an interesting joke. "If voting actually mattered, it would be illegal."

Corrupt Media Make Voting Irrelevant

The handful of people who control the mainstream media control the candidates that are presented to the public for election. For example, redpillguy quoted an article by David Podvin on Howard Dean. According to that article, Howard Dean was originally touted by the mainstream media as the frontrunner. In an interview, he stated that he would would break up the mainstream media monopoly. His campaign rapidly fell apart after that. His famous "screaming incident" was overhyped, and he was promoted as being unfit for President. When the video of his "screaming incident" was played, sound from Howard Dean's microphone was played, but background noise from the arena was filtered out. If you play the video with the loud background noise, Howard Dean's screaming seems less unreasonable. That video was played over and over again in practically every news outlet.

Similarly, when a newspaper displays a photo of a candidate, it typically displays an airbrushed campaign photo. By printing an unairbrushed photo, a candidate can be made to seem ugly. By printing a photo with an unfavorable lighting angle, a candidate can be made to seem ugly.

Sometimes, a candidate can be censored by not being mentioned at all. Third-party candidates or non-mainstream candidates don't get coverage. The official excuse is that they aren't covered because they have no chance of winning, but that just makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy. This was a common feature of Ron Paul's campaign. Ron Paul was very popular on the Internet, but the mainstream media hardly mentioned him.

It's almost impossible to mobilize the 50% of people you would need to get support for a promising candidate. There are all sorts of dirty tricks tricks that the mainstream media can use to manipulate who wins an election. The Internet is leveling the playing field somewhat, but only the most knowledgeable 1%-2% of the population are reading about politics on the Internet. If a non-approved candidate starts getting mainstream success, then another candidate with similar views can be promoted. That trick was used to get Schwarzenegger elected as governor of California. In the special recall election, the democrats fielded several candidates, but the republicans all supported Schwarzenegger.

The Voting System is Defective

One defect is in the winner-take-all voting system. Instant runoff voting has defects, although it is preferable to winner-take-all. The best system is called "range voting". Each voter rates each candidate on a preference scale of 0-100. The candidate with the highest average approval is the winner. This is the only system that allows people to support third party candidates without detracting from their support for a mainstream candidate.

Another reform is to allow several candidates to be elected from each district, as is done in Europe. Consider a state that gets 20 seats in the House of Representatives. In the current system, a candidate must get 50% in one district to gain a seat. Gerrymandering makes it even harder. If all 20 Representatives were elected statewide, it would only take 5% of the vote to elect someone to office. Such a reform would benefit third party formation. There is no chance that such a reform will occur.

The probability of election reform is zero. The people who control the election rules are the ones who benefit from the current system.

A grassroots campaign resembles slaves petitioning their masters to be less cruel.

The Mathematics of Voting

If you study the Mathematics of voting systems, every possible system has defects. This is known as "Arrow's Theorem". For example, the current system leads to "tactical voting", which is voting for the lesser of two evils rather than the candidate you like the most. Even instant runoff systems and range voting systems lead to "tactical voting" scenarios and contradictions.

Voting is fundamentally logically flawed. There's no way to patch the voting system to lead to a method that isn't defective.

Voting Can't Justify Taxes

All forms of taxation are theft. Anyone who says otherwise is either a fool or a liar.

What right does a majority of 51% have to confiscate my wealth? Anyone with productivity equal or below average can vote to confiscate the wealth of more productive people. The income tax does not hurt wealthy people; it hurts productive people. Wealthy people have the ability to use tax loopholes to avoid taxation. Corporations pass on their taxation expense as higher prices. Wealthy people have the ability to get the government to pass laws giving them special perks; the value of these perks exceed the campaign contributions (bribes) and income taxes paid.

Some people estimate that the rate of return for political campaign contributions is 10,000% or more. That money comes from somewhere. It comes from the wealth confiscated by government activities. A wealthy person can spend $10M in campaign contributions in exchange for favors worth $10B. I can't spend $100 in campaign contributions and expect to receive $100,000 in benefits.

The people with extreme wealth control the candidates presented for election. Their government perks allow them to confiscate the wealth of people who are productive but not wealthy. They promise token amounts of welfare to the poor to get them complacent and so they vote for the current system. A lot of poor people would be better off under an economic system that was fair but had no welfare.

The Full List of Defects in Voting

There are all sorts of defects with the election system.

1. A candidate cannot get to 50% support without all the free advertising in the form of television news and newspaper coverage. Whenever Obama or McCain are mentioned as front-runners, that's effectively a free advertisement for them. Other candidates can be censored just by being ignored. The argument of mainstream media is "we shouldn't spend time covering candidates who have no chance of winning", but that just makes it a self-fulfilling policy.

A corrupt media prevents fair elections from occurring.

2. Wealthy donors support both candidates in an election. The choice of an election is a false choice.

3. If a non-approved candidate gains sufficient popularity, other candidates with similar views can be promoted. This will split their support and guarantee that an approved candidate will win.

For example, in the Presidential election of 1992 and 1996, Perot drew support from republicans and guaranteed that Clinton won. In 2000, Nader drew support from democrats and guaranteed that Bush won. A third party candidate with sufficient support can prevent the mainstream candidate he most resembles from winning.

4. The winner-take-all system guarantees that third parties can't be effectively formed. Without electing candidates to office, a third party movement dies. If the platform of a third party starts being popular, a mainstream candidate will adopt a tiny fraction of the platform and attract votes.

In a Presidential election, the winner-take-all system means that many votes are irrelevant. For example, California is almost certain to be majority democratic in the next Presidential election. Effectively, people in California do not get to vote in the Presidential election because the outcome was predetermined. It does not matter if the democratic candidate wins California with 55% or 80%.

California recently changed its rule so that 2 electoral votes are assigned to the statewide winner and 1 electoral vote is assigned to the winner in each Congressional district. This reform ensures that candidates will campaign in closely-contested California districts. This reform also handed a bunch of electoral votes from the democrats to the republicans, because California has quite a few majority-republican districts.

5. In a closely contested election, 1 vote is less than the sampling error in the polling system. If a major election is decided by 10 or fewer votes, the election is more likely to be decided by a legal dispute than an actual vote count, as happened in the 2000 Presidential election.

6. With electronic voting and anonymous voting, it's impossible to verify that the election results weren't faked. Even paper voting is abusable. For example, there's no way to tell that a dead person didn't vote. The only way to conduct a verifiable election is to publish a list of who voted for whom.

7. All forms of taxation are theft. No vote of 51%, 75%, 99%, or 99.99% can justify forced taxation. If you don't have the right to steal from me, you can't delegate the right to steal to other people, by voting. The argument "If I have to pay taxes, then so should everyone else." is entirely defective reasoning.

Of course, without the ability to tax/steal, you can't have a government at all.

People say "the government is legitimate because of elections" and "governments without elections are not legitimate". The voting system is defective and corrupt. The current system is the functional equivalent of a system without any elections at all. Therefore, I conclude that the government is not legitimate.

People are tricked into thinking that by advocating one candidate or another, they will accomplish genuine change and improvement. People who sincerely want to improve things have their efforts wasted and frustrated.

People who want to pursue social change and improvement should consider agorism.

The Option that's Never Offered

There's one choice you'll *NEVER* see offered on a ballot. That choice is "There should be no government at all." You may be offered the choice of one candidate or another. "No government at all" is never offered as a choice.

What would happen if 5%-10% of the people voted for "no government"? Could the remainder validly claim the right to tax them and impose laws on them?

The concept of a "social contract" is fraudulent. If people don't have the right to withdraw their consent, then how can it be considered to be a contract?


My original post generated several interesting comments.

Is FSK suggesting that it is time to revolt?

Yes, it's time to revolt.

However, I am not advocating a violent revolt. I am advocating for a nonviolent economic revolt. That is the overall philosophy of agorism.

Range Voting! That will solve everything!

Range voting is less defective than the current system.

I say that voting cannot be used to establish the legitimacy of a government. There is no majority or supermajority that can justify stealing/taxes.

Another problem with Range Voting is: "How are you going to get the Range Voting reform passed?" The media is corrupt, and won't mention it. The current politicians are never going to support a system that threatens their monopoly. You have a better chance of completely eliminating government via agorism, than getting the Range Voting reform passed.

Even if you magically had a non-corrupt media, and a fair voting system, there would still be instances where people would rationally in their self-interest pass stupid laws. Direct democracy, where people directly vote on individual laws, fails for the same reason as a republican form of government.

The bottom line for me is that NO AMOUNT OF VOTING can justify stealing. All forms of taxation are theft.

Australia has compulsory voting!

You can view that as another form of tax. You are forced to waste your time.

I read an interesting story about an Australian who decided to refuse to vote, just to see what would happen. He received several threatening letters, which he ignored. Nothing else happened.

There are no alternatives to advocating for voting reform and range voting!

Yes, there is an alternative: agorism.

The bottom line is that pursuing reform via voting is a waste of time. Agorism is the only solution with a nonzero chance of succeeding. Agorism hasn't succeeded yet, but the momentum is building. A free market economic revolt has not occurred in the past. There is reason to believe that the future will be different than the past. The Internet is leveling the playing field. The Internet is allowing people to bypass the mainstream media monopoly and directly share information.


Monkt said...

One problem I've see with the internet so far is that most people just get their news from the mainstream media's websites.

Anonymous said...

Instant Runoff Voting and Range Voting are "winner-take-all" systems. For multi-winner elections, you can use STV or Reweighted Range Voting, or even Asset Voting.

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