We have a saying in Canada. ‘Forget about August’ and for good reason. We live in a country where, despite the admonition of global warmers, we experience nine months of winter and three months of bad ice every year. Small wonder therefore that our citizens pay scant heed to what is happening, or what the media says is happening, during the dog days of the month. I think the same might be said for bloggers and other pundits. Accordingly this will be the last rant until we return in the relative sanity of the fall.
We in North America have now entered the election cycle (if in fact it ever ends). For a practicarian (sic), such as myself, I find this rather depressing, until I remember that free elections are at the heart of the democratic process. As Winston Spencer Churchill said “democracy is a terrible form of government until it is compared to everything else”
So my rant is in the form of a question. If we hold democracy so dear why in thunder do we not make it mandatory for every tax paying citizen to vote, either in person or by proxy?
I link the issue to the paying taxes because we in Canada have a thing going on, that relates to the necessity of being tax paying resident citizen, as a precursor to vote; as opposed to the present system, where non-resident and non tax paying citizens have the right to vote. In the US this is handled differently, namely every citizen must file a tax return or risk going to jail; a system I like a lot better.
With the advent of the digital age, hackers not withstanding, surely it should be possible to cause all citizens over the age 18 to use the smart phones, tablets, desk tops et al to vote on generic electronic platforms where ever they might be.
Australia has performed this rather neat switch with no serious side effects, leading, as some would have it, to a far more enlightened populace and greater social cohesion. The reason for this is that by forcing the issue as to the number of voters, as opposed to the first by the post system now in use, leaders from all parties have been forced to consider the opinions of third parties. It is noteworthy that using this system, Australia is one of the few countries that has been able to come to grips with the issue of illegal immigration, a formally very divisive issue.
It seems to me this is an issue with a lot of upside potential and very little downside
A second rant relates to the issues that should be aired and debated during these same elections and sadly are not. Like lemmings we only seem to discuss those issues we are told are important, leaving aside those that require more that a sixty-second sound bite to describe.
One issue that really needs airing is that of bankers and government statisticians cooking the books in order to understate the rate of inflation or disinflation and thereby influence monetary policy; a practice that is very damaging to the welfare of citizens. It seems to that the soothsayers start with the desired result and then change the playing field in order to get the desired result.
Following the debacle of Stagflation during the 1970’s our governments were forced to the conclusion that the practice of reporting monthly inflation figures was causal to anticipatory wage and price inflation. (Government sponsored agencies had become part of the problem)
Rather than kill the goose, the statisticians and other government hobgoblins, decided, in their wisdom, to change the method of calculating the rate of inflation. Without the boring details , this involved changing the content of the basket of goods and services used as a measuring stick, so as to allow for substitution when there was a sudden change in price in one of the component goods. We are told that the theory behind this change is that enlightened consumers will make a substitution when it is in the monetary benefit to do so, a theory that smacks of elitism and maybe totally incorrect. (Lower income folks cannot afford enlightened choices.)
The major beneficiaries of inflation are central governments, (they can pay down debt with depreciated dollars) ; the banking fraternity; and the uber rich. For the rest of us it is misery. Make no mistake, it is not possible to inflate our way to prosperity, no matter who is selling the voodoo economics. The hamburger index tells us that we now have to work longer to buy a smaller burger an unfortunate fact that seems to be finally dawning on both Big Mac, and the elites.
Henry Ford (no saint by anyone’s standards) got it right when he realized that by increasing the standard of living for his huge workforce he was creating new customers for his factories.
I am of the belief that if our governments can be persuaded to stop lying to citizens and get out-of-the-way, the great ingenuity inherent in our way of life will take over and dig us out of the awful mess we now find ourselves in.
It might also help if we would put the genie s’ of the central banks back in the box where they belong. It is time to recognize that bankers make poor choices when faced with the greed of their constituents.