Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saving Hayek from Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki tries to breath new life into Hayek's suggestion that we strip the vote from government employees and welfare recipients (also convicts: or are government employees more suspect than convicts?). He's obviously onto something here although I think we need some clarification.  I assume members of Congress, e.g., count as "government employees" and thus debarred from voting for (or against?) themselves?  And employees of Halliburton, Blackwater, etc.?  I should think that contract "employees" count as "employees" for this purpose (or should we include government contractors under "welfare").

But a moment's reflection suggests that the we haven't gone far enough.  For example, I would hope Kuznicki would want to include the recipients of farm subsidies under his ban?  And those who received protection from arbitrary and highly malleable protections from government interference with the market--e.g., copyright rules (no votes for Steamboat Willy?).   And recognizing that  copyright protections normally fall into the category of "property rights," I suppose we should extend the bar to anyone who owns property?  Or, more simply, anyone who enjoys the protection of the police? 

Have I left anyone out?  Probably.  But the principle should be obvious: the idea that anyone should be denied the vote if the enjoy an advantage from the government is, in principle, quite a good idea.  It will probably have the corollary advantage of shorter polling, easier vote-counting.   We may perhaps in the end be reduced to following the example of the Italian city-states and assigning the power of governance to a candidate whose threshold qualification is that he is a total stranger.  Though exactly how we would pick him, I cannot imagine.

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