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Where to for Western Democracy when voters vote themselves the Treasury?

Posted By Joanne Nova On May 9, 2014 @ 5:38 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

In Australia half of all families get more money from the state than they contribute:

The exclusive modelling for News Corp Australia by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at the University of Canberra reveals 48 per cent of Australia’s 12.2 million “income units” pay no net tax. Any tax they do contribute is more than offset by the welfare — pensions, family tax benefits or childcare rebates — they receive.

The fiscal churn is large. How many people are paid to spend all their productive hours just managing a circle of money?

On average, Australian families will pay $12,935 in income tax this year, but receive $9,515 in benefits — leaving a net yearly contribution to the public purse of just $3424.

In the USA 86 million private sector workers support 148 million benefit takers.

There are also 16 million government workers (not counted in the 86 million tally) — some of whom are most definitely serving the public. On the other hand, some of the private sector workers are doing contracts for the government, and are effectively government paid workers. I wouldn’t want to quibble about the exact numbers. What matters is that we are at the point where half the voters are surely (and quite rationally) focused on voting for benefits. How does a democracy thrive?

I posted these quotes in mid-2011 in The Slow Death of Democracy, time to quote them again:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”

Possibly, Alexander Tytler (circa late 1700′s)


“Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”

Henning Webb Prentis, Jr., President of the Armstrong Cork Company 1943

When do we start the mature conversation about this weakness of democracy?

Here’s some fun questions to take into the weekend. When do we teach this in school? There is no longer any shame at all in living off the productivity of other people. It’s time to bring that back. But  how do we reestablish pride in standing on our two feet, without demonizing people who do genuinely need support? We don’t even have the right word to capture those people and businesses who are independent, self sufficient producers in our language, yet the concept is so important. We need a word (or several) that rewards the net-tax-paying individual… suggestions welcome (we may have to invent a word). Does any language have a word for this?

Look at how few words are on offer in Thesaurus.com

Self-sufficient: able to take care of oneself; competent, confident, efficient, self-supporting. (also self reliant, and self contained or autonomous, from the entry on “independent”)

None of these is a badge-of-honor type word. The only truly free man is the one who is not dependent. To change the national conversation and raise that attribute to a high ideal we need a word for it. We may have to invent one.

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