On June 15, Yahoo Finance reported that Maya MacGuineas, President of the non-Partisan “Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget” said that US politicians refuse to make hard budgetary decisions: “No one wants pay for things”.
Well Ms. MacGuineas, I will tell you why US politicians refuse to make hard budgetary decisions; it is because representative democracy is a foolish set up.
Therefore, it is foolish, Us politicians, and politicians in all representative democracies, hold all the power. To get elected they tell people they have all the power and the answers to their problems and concerns.
It does not matter if the politician is right wing or left-wing, to get elected, the politician can not deliver any hard news because if he or she does, they will not get elected.
Mr. Trump promised to “Make America Great Again”, it is just another version of the times old false message; “follow me because I will take you to the Promised Land”.
Mr. Biden uses different words but the overall message is the same; “vote for me and I will deliver you to the Promised Land”. It may be a land different from Mr. Trump’s, but is the “Promised Land”, anyway.
The whole thing is absurd, but voters fall for such messages (more or less) because they have no choice.
In representative democracies, after the election, voters have zero, zilch, nada, power; there are no mechanisms for the voters to stop the politicians. Voters know they are helpless; once the election is over the system reduces them to the condition of children, the politicians being the parents.
But the politicians can not behave as responsible parents because their condition as parents can be taken away by the “children”.
It is a Catch 22 for the politicians, and for the voters too; the politician can not tell the truth to the voters because if he or she does, he or she will lose election to a politician who promises and promises and promises… The people can not bear hearing the truth because that will mean life will be bad with such politicians. Why vote for them if they tell us life will be hard, but the other fellows insist they will improve our life?
Because of its political dynamics; representative democracies suffer “promise inflation”. In some countries, like Germany, their historic memory tells them that irresponsible economic promises will deliver them to the “unpromised hell”. But even Germany seems to have forgotten; it has succumbed to the flaws of representative democracy, as we can see by the money printing practices of the European Central Bank, who has replaced the Deutsche Bundesbank.
Voters in representative democracies hope politicians will deliver honest, responsible government. But the politicians can’t deliver because voters like to hear beautiful promises at election time, promises that can not become real because they have undermined the country, weakened, even rotten it by previous promises.
This is the reality; representative democracy turns voters into powerless people. As it often happens to powerless people, many voters become irresponsible. Since they can do nothing, they do not feel responsible for the consequences of their vote. No matter who gets elected, the politicians will continue to behave irresponsible; Mrs. MacGuineas expression and the efforts of “Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget” are futile.
But there is hope; we know humans behave responsible if the system makes them responsible for the effect of their decisions. Most people behave responsibly when the rules of the game make them responsible for the effects of their decisions.
Therefore people with mortgages and loans pay them on time, and do so year after year, until they paid the debt off.
To make voters responsible, voters must have the final say of decision on any issues they consider important for the country.
When this happens, a new dynamic enters the mind of the voter; “I dislike the government to overspend”, “I disagree with the huge deficit”, “I know I will have to pay for it”, “I want a referendum for the voters to decide”. “I want to decide if there should be a minimum wage and how much it should be”, “if healthcare should be universal regardless of ability to pay”, “how much university fees should be”, “how big an army we should have”, “if we should go to war with this or that country”, “if we should ban synthetic pesticides”…, etc.”
This means that voters will now have the power to control de behaviours of politicians. That is important, but even more important is that when you can control the behaviours of the politicians but you do not act, you know you are responsible for the irresponsible behaviours of politicians because you did not act, but you had the power to stop them.
This is the magic of direct democracy; it brings responsible government because the people govern; that is what real democracy is; “the people pay, the people have the final say on anything when they want to”.
What Ms. MacGuineas said is interesting, but if she wants responsible government, she should promote direct democracy. I do not know how long she would last as President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget though…
The budget deficit is one problem the US has. In many other areas the US behaves irresponsibly and inefficiently too.
A comparison with Switzerland, where the voters have the power and the responsibility to stop politicians, is illustrative.
It is amazing that a tiny country with no natural resources is ahead of the US in almost any important parameter.
The Swiss live 5 years longer.
The Swiss are 50% less likely to be obese.
They are 27% less likely to be unemployed.
They are 50% less likely to be poor.
Swiss babies are 74% less likely to die at birth.
Swiss children are 35% less likely to die in infancy.
Political stability: Switzerland 92 (over 100), US 73
Civil rights: Switzerland 99, US 83
Health system: Switzerland 93, US 74
Medical doctors and hospital beds per 1000 people: Switzerland: 60% higher.
Average income: Switzerland 86 000 USD, US 66 000
Corruption, the US is 27% more corrupt.
Value of exports per inhabitant, Switzerland’s is 8 times higher.
In crime statistics, street safety, etc., Switzerland makes the US look like Mexico looks to Americans.
Switzerland if the country of reference for almost any positive practical indicator.
Switzerland is, overall, the best country in the World. No doubt this is because the Swiss people have been made the most responsible people of the World by direct democracy.
The US can modify its democracy and turn to direct democracy, like the Swiss did in 1867. If it does, the lives of Americans will radically improve.
To have responsible government in the US, or anywhere else, you, the citizens have to have more power, with it will come more self-responsibility and all positive indicators will go up.
But if you want the change to direct democracy, push for it. The politicians love representative democracy because, when in power, it gives them the formal legitimacy to what they want, and you can not stop them.