Social Safety-Nets and the Right to Vote: A Thought Experiment

Would you support amending the Constitution to provide a federal safety net in food, housing, education, and medical care, with the following limitation: anyone who accepts that support would not be entitled to vote for one election cycle after accepting the support?

My friend Stephen Hollingshead, a classical liberal who’s of the mind that the federal government should really have nothing to do with providing the mentioned necessities of life, posed this question for discussion in another forum, and with his permission I’ve asked it here.

As someone who wishes President Obama was actually something approaching a democratic socialist, I don’t share my friend’s underlying political philosophy; nonetheless, his thought experiment appealed to me.

He’s obviously not the first to raise a red flag in warning of the conflicts of interest and the fiscal troubles that would ensue when large numbers of the electorate vote themselves largesse out of the public treasury.  I’m not remotely convinced that most voters who benefit from federal social safety nets vote seeking to get something for relatively nothing, but I gather the posed question is meant in part to test the extent of that motivation for voting.

For my part, I would not support such an amendment, seeing it as an injustice, but if I were in the position of truly needing to accept this form of government aid for myself or for members of my family, then I would willingly sacrifice the right to vote for an election cycle.  Would definitely complain about infringements upon my rights, though.  The possibility that some recipients of government aid will use democracy to acquire wealth from the public treasury, without a care to contribute to it and to the common good, does not justify temporarily taking the right to vote away from anyone who has need to fall upon these safety nets.  The hypothetical amendment seems to presuppose the takers/makers binary that way too much oversimplifies the economic reality.

What about you?  How would you answer the question?

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Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a contributor to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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62 Responses

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    History shows that the greatest danger for a democracy isn’t the masses voting themselves free stuff – its elites pushing expensive wars. See e.g. Rome; Athens

    • Richard S. Arndt says:

      I agree with Alex Knapp but would add that another significant danger for democracy stems from the elites using the public treasury to manipulate the masses by the handing out of benefits (with hidden strings attached) in addition to declarations of war.

    • DarwinCatholic says:

      With Athens, the danger is arguably more that in a semi-democracy that is also a slave holding society, the elites can break the beneficial balance between rich and poor by providing huge subsidies to poorer voters, while exploiting the enslaved non-voters to make themselves rich. This turns the aparatus of democracy into a mechanism for spoil-taking for both rich and poor alike, while making the source of slaves (expansion and war) necessary to national survival.

      With Rome, the patrones/clientes relationship allowed a similar benefit to faction and spoil making, accentuated by the fact that Rome was a society heavily based on the military, such that civil wars became endemic and people embraced dictatorship as a more peaceful solution (which it was.)

      I’m not sure either situation has very close lessons for us.

  2. Pat Cahalan says:

    I think most of the people who accept the government handout are far underrepresented in electoral politics, so the net result on that end wouldn’t be too bad. A good number of them don’t vote anyway.

    On the other hand, I can see an immediate defunding of all that stuff as soon as the dependents can’t vote, if they take that deal. Enjoy your three years of no voting and crappy government services, suckers! If you don’t think that would happen, just look at that jackass libertarepublican going Galt that’s been linked on the front page.

    So I’m thinking that won’t work out.

    When you give one part of an equation a vast amount of power, they’re going to throw it around.

  3. Will Truman says:

    Government support should never come at the expense of civil rights, voting or otherwise.

    (This also applies, I should note, to suggestions like we’ve had at this very blog that we treat beneficiary states as second-class citizens wherein they either lose the right to complain about regulations of which they disapprove or alternately return whatever money they’ve gotten beyond the taxes they’ve paid.)

    • Kim says:

      I agree with this. I think we should have some way to regulate/incentivize not going the “beggar thy neighbor” strategy, however. (which it is important to note, is not MOST states’ strategy). Ideas?

    • Jonathan Rogers says:

      I disagree. Those who are on welfare or other public assistance (provided for by hard working taxpayers) should not be allowed to vote until they cease being on government assistance. To allow them to vote is a conflict of interest as they will never vote for a candidate who won’t give them free stuff – free health care, free cell phone, free (name the latest freebie to the parasites of our society). I would wholeheartedly support and endorse an amendment to the Constitution that would limit the ability to vote (that is to exercise political power) to those who are not on government assistance. In fact, I would support an amendment to create two classes of people in America – Civilian and Citizen. We’d get better quality leaders if only those who have serve (either in military uniform or other federal service) were allowed to vote or hold office..though I’d be inclined to restrict citizenship to those who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States as only those who have served truly appreciate how precious our freedom is because they’ve put their lives on the line to protect and defend it while those who have not served have very little idea (especially among the young today) of what the true price of freedom is. I live by the creed of: I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man nor ask another man to live for mine. It’s time to cut the parasites off from leeching the fruit of the productive person’s labor. If a man will not work he shall not eat.

      • zic says:

        Just Wow.

        I’d be inclined to restrict citizenship to those who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States as only those who have served truly appreciate how precious our freedom is because they’ve put their lives on the line to protect and defend it while those who have not served have very little idea (especially among the young today) of what the true price of freedom is.

        So if you ruled the world, we’d have a warrior-class elite, making the decisions for everyone else. And they, too, wouldn’t vote in their self-interest?

        Really, I’ve got to challenge that notion that the young have very little idea of what the true price of freedom is. The young fought the longest-running war in our history, and a second one on the side. While few of them may have actually fought, nearly all of them have peers that fought, that died, that have come home with unseen wounds in their brains.

        The young, they didn’t ask for these two wars. They didn’t ask to pay for them, somewhere down the road. They didn’t ask for a back-door draft based on petty felony charges and college tuition.

        So I don’t think you know as much about the true price of freedom as you claim. If a man can thoughtlessly complain about others, he will.

        • zic says:

          And I missed the point, from the front page.

          So please stick a fork in me, but I’m not done.

          Old farts. They are not reliable, don’t work, use too much medical care, and spend too much time sucking propaganda of their idiot boxes.

          Beyond the age of 50 (which I randomly set low enough to include yours truly,) a test should be given about the latest viral video pop out artist and rave behaves before the voting commences. Don’t pass the test, and your vote only counts 3/5.

      • zic says:

        (that line about especially among the young today got me on my soapbox, I’ve watched too many of my children’s cohort come home in pine boxes. And heard too many grumpy old men say much the same.)

      • Ramblin' Rod says:

        Okay, so only veterans are Citizens. Just like Starship Troopers, yah!

        But wait… what about unemployed veterans??

      • Kim says:

        Okay. But Koch and company don’t vote anyway. So you’re really just suggesting that they ought to get back to more propaganda — only military tuned propaganda.

  4. Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    Only as long as EVERYONE receiving ANY federal aid wouldn’t be allowed to vote. The more you receive, the longer the ban.

  5. greginak says:

    Only if people who get tax breaks for their houses or business or health insurance lose their ability to vote.

    The conservative belief/delusion that the greatest threat to democracy is people voting for the Gov to do things collectively that can’t be done by individuals can barely be measured with current tech. Deploying pithy quotes that attempt to prove this, as Tom likes to do, proves nothing. Nor does it show examples of this ever happening. ( if you are going to mention Greece, then do your research about Greek tax avoidance, lack of industry and how Wall Street finance types lied and cheated for them that made their overly generous benefits unsustainable)

    • Kolohe says:

      “Only if people who get tax breaks for their houses or business or health insurance lose their ability to vote.”

      Or for that matter anyone with a federal government job – either civilian or military. More complicated to implement would also be restricting it to anyone who gets more than 50% of their AGI via employment with a government contractor.

  6. NewDealer says:

    The post that all the righties seem to be pushing for today is not from De Tocqueville.

    It is by an 18th-Century Scottish Lord who was notorious skeptical of democracy. And like all Scotts of the time, an arch-Calvinist.

    To answer the question no. One right should not come at the expense of another right especially the franchise.

    I don’t understand Calvinism at all. We don’t live in an agarian society of limited technology and complexity. It was possible not to have health insurance for most of human history because medicine could not do much until fairly recently. Modern medicine has advanced further in the past few decades than it has in any other time in human history and it is simply too expensive for anyone to afford on their own and there are plenty of people who would not be covered by private insurance because of their health and “pre-existing conditions”, plenty of which happen randomly. It strikes me as unfair to leave this people without insurance.

    The conservative version of freedom and limited government might make sense in a technologically limited and rural nation of yeoman farmers but it does not make sense for a largely suburban-urban nation filled with employees and non-farmers.

    • “And like all Scotts of the time, an arch-Calvinist.”

      I’m not sure that’s true. At any rate, no true Scotsman would be a calvinist in my view. (Sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂 )

      • NewDealer says:

        I laughed.

        Though I question whether a true Pierre Corneille should make me laugh.

        Now if you were a true Molliere, I would laugh with you in comedy and tragedy

        • Moliere is good, especially Le Misanthrope.

          Racine is actually my favorite, and would be my pseudonym if English speakers weren’t inclined to think his first name rhymes with “Gene” and thus misidentify my gender.

          Here’s something from him, if you speak French. It’s from Les Plaideurs de Rome. The scene is a court room, and one lawyer is giving his opening statement while the other listens impatiently:

          Petit Jean, se couvrant.
          Messieurs… Vous, doucement;
          ce que je sais le mieux, c’est mon commencement.
          Messieurs, quand je regarde avec exactitude
          l’inconstance du monde et sa vicissitude;
          lorsque je vois, parmi tant d’hommes différents,
          pas une étoile fixe, et tant d’astres errants;
          quand je vois les césars, quand je vois leur fortune;
          quand je vois le soleil, et quand je vois la lune;
          quand je vois les états des Babiboniens
          transférés des Serpans aux Nacédoniens;
          quand je vois les Lorrains, de l’état dépotique,
          passer au démocrite, et puis au monarchique;
          quand je vois le Japon…

          Quand aura-t-il tout vu?

          • (((Sorry….I had forgotten you were a lawyer when I posted that. 🙂 )))

          • NewDealer says:

            I don’t speak French.

            And I used to be a theatre guy. I know Racine largely through is version of Pheadre

          • Sorry. My French is decent enough to read it, but I’m not sure my translation could do it justice.

            I really like Phedre, but Andromaque and Berenice are my favorites.

            Here’s a translation of the piece above that I found online. I edited some of it make it correspond better to the part I’m citing. (It’s one of a long tradition of lawyers jokes.):

            P. J. {putting it on).— Gentlemen, . … {to Prompter) Don’t be in
            a hurry. What I know best is thCibeginning. Gentlemen, when I
            regard with exactitude the inconstancy of the world and its vicis-
            situdes; when 1 see among so many different ‘men not a fixed
            star, and so many wandering suns; when I see the Caesars, when I
            see their fortune ; when I see the sun and when I see the moon ;
            when I see the empire of the ….
            Babybonians transferred firom the ….
            Serpents to the ….
            Masons of Amiens ; when I see the ….
            Lorrans from a . . . .
            depotio state, pass to the ….
            democrlt and then to the monarchic, when I see Japan

            L’iNT.— When will he have done seeing ?

          • BlaiseP says:

            Let’s try that again. Les Plaideurs de Rome == the Roman Litigants.

            Petit Jean, wrapping himself up.
            Gentlemen … quiet down;
            What I know best is how to begin.
            Gentlemen, when I closely regard
            the inconstancy of this world and its vicissitudes;
            When I see among different sorts of men,
            Not one fixed star, but many wanderers;
            When I see the Caesars, when I behold their fortunes;
            When I see the sun, and when I see the moon;
            When I see the state of the Babiboniens [sic, s/b Babylonians]
            transferred to Serpans Nacédoniens; [sic, should be Macedonian Serpents == Alexander]
            When I see Lorraine, state dépotique, [sic, should be déspotique, despotic]
            go to Democritus, and then the monarchy;
            when I see Japan …

            The Respondent.
            When will he have seen everything?

          • Beautiful translation, Blaise. Was that your own?

          • BlaiseP says:

            Yes, that’s my translation.

          • BlaiseP says:

            I forgot to add another [sic] in there, Racine’s joke clearly left another in there. passer au démocrite, which is “goes to Democritus”, but should be démocratie in French.

          • BlaiseP says:

            démocratie == democracy.

          • The translation I repasted here, and edited, included a setup where the lawyer was being prompted by someone who knew the terms better. Therefore, the lawyer was prompted to say, for example, “democratie,” but he misheard and said “democrate.”

          • Again, great translation. J’esperais que vous viendriez m’aider a faire la traduction!

    • In more seriousness, from reading the link, I don’t find much reference to Calvinism and how it determines that particular skepticism of “democracy.”

      I do suggest that Calvinism is, or at least can be, more than simply “a strong belief in double predestination.” And in my view even if that’s all it is, it does not by itself necessarily carry any policy implications. (Of course, as a quasi-ethnicity, if we can call it that, “Calvinist” might suggest a preference for a certain type of democracy.)

      Finally, while we’re throwing out the “democracy,” do we mean pure democracy, or one mediated, say, by majority rule and minority right? I also suggest that it’s possible to have the “freedom” you seem to prescribe “for a largely suburban-urban nation filled with employees and non-farmers” with less democracy, at least by certain definitions of the term. We can be “free” in some respects while having less of a vote on certain matters. In that sense, maybe it’s true that democracy cannot long endure as a permanent form of government.

      Finally, I have to admit that what I wrote is not necessarily what conservatives mean or meant when they repeat that meme.

      • Yikes! Two finally’s! Sorry.

      • NewDealer says:

        Maybe this is because of my Jewish heritage and upbringing but even though I am a third generation American, the mythic ideal of rugged individualism is perplexing to me. I don’t see why collectivist actions or responses are wrong. I grew up in the suburbs like many Americans. But still parts of the shetyl still exist in my brain and blood.

        So I get rather confused by the American Right proclaiming this kind of Jeffersonian fantasy as being the only freedom and it does seem rather Calvinist to me. You are either successful or not and your unsuccess is a sign of God’s Will and deserved. I say bullshit.

        I agree that the definition of democracy is tricky. But I don’t see why universal healthcare is a death knell for liberty or something that government just should not do. This is an area where the United States stands alone in the developed world, we have a significant part of the population that seems to sincerely believe that universal health care and other safety net measures are a death knell for liberty and democracy. You would think Western Europe proves them wrong.

        • I’m not so quick to call “b.s.” as you are, but that might be perhaps because I have a somewhat different definition of Calvinist than the double predestination bit or than Weber’s protestant work ethic.

          I also don’t think the people who point to negative liberty necessarily need insist that the celebration of what you call the Jeffersonian fantasy is “the only freedom.” While it’s not a straw man, it does strike me as a bit of a caricature. There is something to be said for the notion that empowering the state to do good thing X might end up constructing a mechanism that some corrupt people can seize to do evil thing Y. Sometimes there are just going to be people who disagree, and they are not necessarily as categorical or as bad faith in their disagreements as they seem at first glance.
          I agree mostly with this, though: “But I don’t see why universal healthcare is a death knell for liberty or something that government just should not do.”

          I say “mostly” and not “completely” because I do think there can be a tradeoff. Something good must be surrendered, even if that “good” is, in the case of the ACA, the privilege of not having to buy insurance without paying a small tax.

          I’ll also say that Western Europe may not have proven them wrong, although some of the programs seem to work better than others (my very uninformed perspective suggests that Switzerland’s quasi-private system works better than the UK’s partially nationalized system….someone who knows more can correct me.) At the same time, I wouldn’t want to insist on W. Europe as an example to follow, because if we go along the path of comparing what kinds of countries offer universal health care, someone is bound to point out Wilhelmine/Bismarckian Germany. Maybe national health insurance worked there, too, but it was part of a larger autocratic system.

          Again, I support universal health insurance and the ACA. Believe me, it is the principal reason I wanted Obama to win. Before the ACA, I have a hard time recalling any politician whose victory I wanted so strongly because I thought the victory helped ensure the success of a policy.

          But as much as I like it, it comes at a cost, especially if any practical way of providing it might not reduce health provision costs. If the ACA turns out a disaster–and it might, but I’m optimistic–poorer people might end up buying insurance that insures nothing at all even though on paper it insures everything. Again, I don’t think the worst case scenario will happen, but it might, and it’s a risk.

          • Kim says:

            It’s easy to reduce health care costs.
            1) Electronic Health Records. (do you have any idea how much time and effort is spent with finding paper documents,a nd then faxing them somewhere else?)
            2) Rewarding people with better ideas for “reducing costs” (readmissions, right now), and then letting them gobble up the rest of the market. (oh, don’t worry, they’ve been gobbling it up anyhow, as economies of scale are wont to do).

  7. Iain Brown says:

    Those receiving support are at the mercy of the state, and this restriction would cut what little influence they have. There would be an advantage to a ruling group to impoverish a class of enemies; for the relatively small price of support, the class would be disenfranchised. Cut enough people out of the political process and you can then start cutting support payments without restoring voting rights.

    I think the last election cycle proved that it isn’t hard to motivate people to support cutting lifelines (healthcare, welfare) to a group by demonizing them as lazy and unproductive, even among individuals who are one furlough away from joining the ranks of the poor or uninsured. So it should be pretty easy to strip rights from a non-voting class.

  8. Teresa Rice says:

    As much as I can sympathize with Stephen’s position I am against his proposal. But I believe the State shouldn’t be helping to permanently fund or raise citizens so maybe a time limit for one to attain proper education and employment should be instituted? Then if citizens need monies past the time period they would lose the privilege/right to vote.

    • Kazzy says:

      I don’t know that the right to vote should ever be stripped away (I don’t even like that felons lose it), but I do think that support should have certain limitations. Of course, we must ensure that folks have appropriate opportunities to receive education/training/employment. It is much easier to hold folks accountable to failing to do so when a real opportunity existed.

  9. As someone who believes that part of governmental responsibility is to provide a safety net, I reject this idea.

    There is such a powerful perception of this great handout society – I simply do not understand it. Are there those who game and work the system? Yes, of course. And you find them at the bottom rungs of society – and at the top as well. So be it, the human condition prevails.

    I simply cannot get my mind around the idea of not providing something. If people become more and more destitute, we all pay dearly. And in many ways.

  10. dhex says:

    would senators and congresscritters be disenfranchised for as long as they worked in or otherwise drew from (consulting, etc) the feds?

  11. Ramblin' Rod says:

    Seems to me that the real largesse is absconded from the Treasury via lobbying and campaign contributions. In comparison, voting is a fart in a wind-storm; at best a meager attempt at self-defense.

    Would your friend be willing to amend his amendment to include bans on those activities as well? If not, he can pound sand as far as I’m concerned.

  12. bookdragon says:

    Let’s see, can we exclude lobbyists and anyone who receives govt assistance to start or grow their business? Can we ban any corporation that receives DoD, SBIR, etc. funds from making campaign contributions?

    How about, above a certain level of income everyone pays a flat tax, but if you want to use exceptions to move money into shelters or overseas accounts or have your investment income taxed at lower rate, you don’t get to vote, run for office or fund PACs for a cycle?

  13. DarwinCatholic says:

    Speaking as a conservative, I think it’s a bad idea for two reasons:

    1) It takes an undue focus on just one kind of government benefit. Lots of people get benefits from the actions of government in ways other than receiving social safety net assistance. Confining the vote to those who do not receive safety net assistance would necessarily over-index on the influence of those receiving those kind of benefits (beneficiaries of regulatory favoritism, government worker unions, government contractors, etc.) at the expense of others.

    2) It abandons the very conservative idea of a balance of conflicting interests being the best means of guarding the common good for a fairly progressive concept of selecting a group of people sufficiently objective and enlightened to be trusted to wield power selflessly. Since I don’t think human nature works that way, I think trying to act as if it did will always lead to trouble.

  14. dhex says:

    disenfranchising groups of people is a very popular idea, apparently!

  15. KatherineMW says:

    Dafuq? No!

    Ensuring everyone in a country has access to the basic requirements of living (housing, basic necessities, health care, education) and providing economic support during difficult times is one of the primary functions of a state. Benefitting from those programs doesn’t make you less of a citizen; it’s part of what comes with citizenship. It absolutely doesn’t deprive you of the right to vote. The only purpose of a program like the suggested one is to disenfranchise the poor, in an even more sweeping way than poll taxes did; and it would almost certainly be unconstitutional.

    The US doesn’t have a public finance problem because of a social safety net; far from it. The idea that countries go broke because the lower classes “vote themselves money” is simply false, and unsupported by evidence. Canada did very well fiscally with a reasonable social safety net and public health care. The US has a public finance problem because it cut taxes and pursued needless foreign wars – and when the rich control half the total income in the country, it’s unreasonable to claim that taxing them more would have no fiscal effect.

    The rich have, for the last 30 years, been the only ones getting richer; everyone else’s income has stagnated. The rich are certainly not the only ones who have made contributions to the economy over those 30 years. It’s perfectly legitimate to say that everyone, not just the top 10% to 0.1%, should benefit when there is economic growth, and the market has shown itself unable to achieve that.

    • I support much of what you say here, as well as others’ objections to the hypothetical Kyle offers for discussion. But I don’t entirely agree with this:

      The idea that countries go broke because the lower classes “vote themselves money” is simply false, and unsupported by evidence.

      That’s certainly true of the U.S.–that’s not why we’re having troubles. However, might it be at least part of the problem when it comes to other countries? I’m thinking of Greece in particular. I admit, however, that perhaps the situation is not as simple as I’m making it out to be.

      Also, I think it’s an issue related, albeit indirectly and with qualifications, to the public pensions crisis we have here in Illinois. Policymakers have found it politically easy to accede to pensions for civil servants while at the same time not funding those pensions adequately. Now, the taxpayers, through no discernible fault of their own, are on the hook for the pensions or the pensioners, through no discernible fault of their own, may have to face reduced benefits from what they were promised.

      Again, though, I don’t think the offer of a guarantee of a minimum standard of ought to be conditioned on the surrender of a basic right.

    • GordonHide says:

      It’s not true that there is no evidence for the idea that the poor vote themselves a greater share of the cake. In the 1960s and early seventies socialist governments in the UK drove those with the ability to make large incomes abroad to other jurisdictions with disastrous effects on the overall economy.

      In fact one might say that is why the combination of free market economics and democracy works so well. Free market economics generates wealth and democracy enables the poor man to dip into the rich man’s pocket, (provided he doesn’t get too greedy).

      • Kim says:

        Yes. The robber barons read Marx and learned a thing or two. Thus, we had unions, instead of (too many) assassinations.

        • GordonHide says:

          I actually wasn’t thinking in terms of dipping directly into the rich man’s pocket. My reference was to voting in government more amenable to social spending.

    • GordonHide says:

      On second thoughts you might be right in the the US about the poor not voting themselves more money. As I’ve said before on these blogs the poor in the US are already substantially disenfranchised because of the political campaign funding regulations, (or lack thereof). The advantage of the current method of disenfranchising is that many of the poor don’t realise they have been disenfranchised because they can still go to the polls.

  16. Kim says:

    HOW did this get past first sanity check?
    If one can be fired by a company, and then pretty much guaranteed to go on welfare, then the corporation can muck with elections at will (and take only a small loss to do so, particularly if he can rehire afterwards).

    Game Theory wise, this really sucks. And it incentivizes “bouncing” people in and out of welfare, so that they will never, ever get to vote.

  17. GordonHide says:

    In the past in the UK the poor have effectively voted for a greater level of benefits for themselves knowing that it is not they who pay for it. However, it cannot be a good idea to disenfranchise the poor contingent on their receipt of benefits. In terms of control over their own lives they’re already well down the pecking order.

    Perhaps a cap on the value of benefits as a proportion of average income, (excluding benefits), might be a better way to go.

    • bookdragon says:

      I doubt it would have affected the issue in the UK. For a certain period of time, lots of folks in Northern Ireland and elsewhere went on the dole to stick it to the Brits in large part because they felt disenfranchised/powerless.

      • GordonHide says:

        The total population of Northern Ireland is less than 3 million. Over half of those are loyalists and the total number registering for benefits is a comparatively small proportion of the UK total.

        When I wrote my post I was thinking of local property taxes and local authority services. The effect of the poor voting for more local services and thus higher local taxation which they did not have to pay was so pronounced that central government had to set a national rate for local taxes.

  18. Morat20 says:

    Denying civil rights to people on government assistance (and what does that mean, anyways. People on food stamps? Unemployment insurance? Social Security? Kids on Medicare/caid? Familes of soldiers? People claiming the mortgage deduction? Farmers utilizing government aid programs?) is a really, really stupid idea.

    You know, the 47% meme needs to die. Not only is it rather stupid (the vast bulk of the 47% have paid or WILL pay income taxes most of their lives — they just happen to be retired on SS, kids on Medicaid, families of our notoriously poorly paid soldiers, the working poor,…) but the very party that screams about it (the GOP) has as one of their prime voting blocks members of that 47% (people on SS).

    And it leads to ideas like this. Sure, let’s take the one segment of the population that has the crappiest lives, the least political power, and take what little they have away from them. Why? So they can’t vote themselves bread and circuses — which, if you’d ever experienced life on food stamps or unemployment, you’d know they don’t actually do.

    Don’t talk about military contractors, corn lobbyists, or the people really sucking off the federal teat — go after the powerless. Unworkable, unethical solution to a non-existant problem.

    • b-psycho says:

      ^^^what Morat said.

      Besides, in a system functioning on mass robbery, the minimally attached asking “where’s mine?” is inevitable. They ask that too long without getting an answer, you may have a revolt on your hands.

  19. Citizen says:

    I would vote more if there were a box for guillotine. It takes to long to write it in.

  20. bookdragon says:

    If anyone wants there to be a cost to voting, how about Starship Troopers solution? You only get to vote if you serve – military (or equivalent service for pacifists or those who can’t pass the physical).

    • Morat20 says:

      Why? I mean it — why exactly should there be a cost for voting, besides being a sane adult? And by sane, I mean literally “not in an asylum”. (Speaking of which, it’d be awfully nice if we revisted the in-retrospect really stupid ideas of the 80s on how to deal with mental health).

      • bookdragon says:

        The question was meant as a jab at the suggestion of ‘qualifying’ for the right to vote.

        The question posed here is based on idea of that people only get to vote if they refuse assistance – sacrifice help with food, housing, etc. If voting is a right you only earn by being self-sufficient, then why not take the next step and make it a right you only earn by serving the state?

  21. James Hanley says:

    I wouldn’t support such an amendment, particularly with the voting caveat. But if the caveat is extended to executives and stockholders of corporations that receive government subsidies, I could go for it.