Scott Gray (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sun, 25 Mar 2001 13:43:11 -0500 (EST)
It seems to me that there are two very different visions of the
One vision, and certainly the predominant vision in the world at large,
suggests what John has proposed. This first view is that the point of
democratic structures is to allow as many citizens who are _competent_ to
govern to govern. In this vision, it is reasonable to use very basic
criterion to select which citizens are competent. Governments structured
according to this first model of democracy maintain that having some basic
criteria will at least assure you that there is maximum overlap between
those who are "competent" to govern and those who do govern.
At the dawn of the 21st century in the US, all criteria but age have
been discarded for one reason or another. It _may_ be the case that the
rationale for denying children the right to vote is reasonable given
demonstrable facts. But we _cannot_ deny that the logic behind denying
children the vote is identical with the logic behind denying the vote to
women, Anabaptists, persons without real estate, or persons of African
descent -- that such persons do not have the capacity to vote the nation's
Another vision, holds to very different standards. The suggestion is
that all persons -- regardless of any proposed measure of ability --
should still be allowed to exercise the same voice at the table. This is
proposed on several grounds, but I will put forward a few grounds which
taken together make this vision more compelling to me:
1: That in the free market of ideas all persons are generally able to
judge which proposed paths match their _own_ interests.
2: That in the rare instance of a person who is unable to perceive where
his/her own interests lie, such a person is quite unlikely to be motivated
to exercise the franchise.
3: That any means used to classify some persons as less competent to
vote likely exclude a disproportionate number of people who have
_specific_ interests in government.
4: That a nation's interests can only reasonably be defined by the
interests of its membership, rather than by some standard distinct from
I suppose that I would put it this way John. I am not worried by
letting people who know very little about information technology vote on
which proposal for telecommunications should be adopted in their town.
Such parties can, if they feel unable to make an informed decision, remain
silent. Such parties can hear the free exchange of those who do know more
about telecommunications. And, more to the point, if only information
geeks were _allowed_ to vote in such matters, the interests of many
_other_ members of the town would be ignored.
I am much more troubled by the fact that our government doesn't give
each person equal access to the franchise than I am troubled by the fact
that some voters are (in my opinion) less wise than I am. And you
certainly know that keeping the vote from persons under 18 years of age
has certainly not been a guarantee that no foolish person would ever cast
On Sun, 25 Mar 2001, John Axtell wrote:
> First and foremost in our country you do not have the right to vote until you are
> 18 and by the time you are 18, as you said, you have been paying a lot of taxes
> without being able to vote. Also you usually have to be able to read to read the
> ballot, but it seems, at least in Florida during our last Presidential election the
> ability to read was not enough you actually had to be able to following directions
> - something many of our fine citizens were unable to do. In our country, in most
> states, you do not have the right to drive until you are 16 and have passed a test.
> My point is that I am still troubled by the concept of letting individuals who have
> little or no knowledge of the realities of life should somehow be part of the
> decision making model. Certainly they may express their opinion but to allow them a
> vote is a bit much for me.
> As to people not owning property being allowed to vote. If they increase taxes that
> landowners have to pay the landowner will probably pass on that tax, and more, to
> the renters. I have a problem with renters not being allowed to take a deduction
> for the rent they pay off of the federal income tax while home owners can. Taxes
> are simply a way of social engineering created by those in power to take away money
> from those not in power.
> Martin Wilke wrote:
> > John Axtell schrieb:
> > > I am having a very hard time believing that children, who have done nothing to
> > > provide financially for their own well-being, can not feed themselves, nor
> > > clothe themselves and have done nothing to provide for the purchase of
> > > buildings, facilities, et. have any reason to expect to, all of a sudden, have
> > > an equal voice as others in decisions regarding these resources. Rather than
> > > taxation without representation it seems this is representation without
> > > taxation.
> > Do you suggest that people with little or no property should be denied
> > the right to vote like in the 19th century? Or that people should have
> > different amounts of votes depending on how much taxes they pay?
> > All people in a community (city, state, country) have to bear the
> > consequences of the political decisions that are being made. (And not
> > all of these decisions involve spending money.) Equality demands that
> > all have an equal vote. One person - one vote.
> > So when you have to pay taxes you can expect to have a vote.
> > But even if you don't pay taxes (but you always do, at least VAT) you
> > can expect to have a vote, because political decision-making is also
> > about other things: rules.
> > Martin Wilke
> > --
> > http://www.kraetzae.de
> > http://www.demokratische-schule.de
--Scott David Gray
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