Societal Death-Sting – The Vote of the Dependent Class

Societal Death-Sting – The Vote of the Dependent Class

It is usually considered impossible for a free acting person to consistently and knowingly act against their own self interests.

In the words of Ayn Rand a person operates “in essence, [with] is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” (Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, 1957)

Whether directly or indirectly we act in our own self-interests.

There is usually some level of conflict between direct and indirect self-interest, which more often than not is settled by direct self interest overriding any other view.

Knowing this, society has a difficultly when at election time that there would be any world-view, nation-view or societal view that would not be set aside by people voting for their own self-interest.

In the case of societal members who have become dependents of the state, this has a closed cycle their voting to preserve the benefits they obtain from the state. The greater their dependency for life system & money on teh state, the more of a conflict between their own well-being and any other political aim emerges.

Hence the idea of a self-inflicted Societal Death-Sting – “The Vote of the Dependent Class.”

With a growing percentage of societies members beneficiaries on the redistribution of wealth by everything from pensions, direct jobs, welfare and grants/contracts, the freewill vote is reduced.

Many would argue that sometime in the last ten years we crossed a point where voting on principle became an impossibility for the majority, rather they have to choose which offer of government largess they will support.

Politicians have become like competing pirates, each offing an every larger cut of the booty they have taxed, user fee-ed, or otherwise appropriated from the productive segment of society.

There is only on logical choice, to disenfranchise people with obvious conflicts of interest from voting.

Until the cycle of the masses voting “bread & circuses” for themselves at the expense of a small productive segment of society is removed, we are doomed to share Imperial Rome’s decline.

Or perhaps as we more fully experience the thievery of the “looters” and “moochers” of the society around us we will experience an exodus of society’s producers like that lead by John Galt in Ayn’s novel.

Something has to give, and it should be the removal of conflict of interest at the polls, rather than continuing down the socialist path.

Your thoughts?



2 comments so far

  1. Morris on

    Hi Steve,

    Here is the way I see it. There is no way to remove the votes of those who seek to gain at the expense of others by their votes. For one, we have a hard time limiting the scope of government to a few things that government does well. We already have, what I think you have labeled above, a dependent class, and they will never vote to disenfranchise themselves.

    Here is the real problem, though. We have government doing alot of things. Anytime we vote to finance troops fighting terrorists or to do something that few could argue against, such as to finance weather satelites or weather radar to provide some advance warnings of hurricanes, tornados, ice storms, etc. we have to find a way to finance such things. Those who vote on the financing will vote in thier own best interest, which is unlikely to be in the best interest of everyone else. In fact, they will often try to vote for a tax that others will have to pay, while they get by with paying little, or even getting some sort of tax credit so that they can get something back even though they paid nothing.

    But government does so much more. We vote for regulation x in industry Y, but this puts industry Y at a distinct disadvantage now to industry Z. We say, oh that sounds about right, but little regard is paid to the real effects of the regulation. Here, though, those in industry Z love the new regulation on their nemisis industry, because now, people buy more Zs and fewer Ys. Those in industry Z are clearly, at least to me, just as much part of the dependent class.

    I am even a member of the dependent class, as I am a state employee. I am a bit of a subversive member of that class, however.

    Once, I wrote a paper, along with my dissertation chair, on a fair method of voting on redistribution of incomes. The only fair method, as we could determine, was to have the society, for redistributive purposes, into about 10 or so groups. People in group 1 could vote on the redistributive policy that was to prevail on those in group 2, and those in group 2 on the policies in group 3, on and on and those in group 10 would vote on the policies in group 1. That way, no one stood to gain from voting to rob, uh, tax, someone else.

    Still, even with our voting system, what remains is the problem I mentioned at the outset, every proposal has some redistributive aspect and that cannot be escaped, and certainly, should not be ignored.

    Redistribution, not only has the terrible incentive problem, that regular incentives built into the economic system to be productive and be productive at things other people want are weakened, but other problems occur. As people find that they can get by just as well be being a social parasite than by being productive, more and more productive resources, people resources, get misdirected to stealing, sueing, lobbying, campaigning to take other people’s money, which also forces people to turn their resources away from productive uses to defending their own property. This redirection of resources from productive uses to stealing and protecting is a drain on society, a waste to society, that economists have labelled “rent-seeking” losses or waste. Look up rent seeking on Wikipedia. The economist who pointed out this waste was one of my Va Tech profs, Gordon Tullock (who is now at George Mason Law School, and BTW, never took a formal course in economics, but did read Mises).

    Tullock realized the problem of rent seeking, which kills society by a “death of a thousand cuts” when he was with the State Department and stationed in China after WWII until Mao took over.

    There is much more I could write, but, the hour is either very late or very early.


  2. k9zw on

    Thank you Prof MC for you words!

    Your observation that the unlikelihood of voters dependent on government largess voting to disenfranchise themselves, or to even defer from voting where their conflict of interest prevents their action as a “good citizen,” is spot on. They won’t do it.

    Perhaps some other mechanism to mitigate the conflict of interest problem for voters could be put in place.

    A system, with has self-perpetuating characteristics has been allowed to replace our constitutional democracy.

    It is a welfare state run amuck.

    Looking forward to your further words!



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