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  • Voting with your wallet

    A different take on democratic voting

    Here is a thought that I’ve had kicking around for quite a long time and has recently reoccurred to me. What if budgets and tax allocation were controlled by the population through income tax? I’m sure this is not an original idea, and I have not bothered to look into it.

    Think about it like the humble bundle model, not in terms of pay what you can/want, but the fact that you can choose where your money goes to. The game developer(s) humble them self, or to the current partnered charity. You can give the tax paying population the option to have a say in where their money is spent. While also having the option to not bother with it and be either divided evenly or to preset values (the same as humble). This system can be as course as five macro sectors like education, healthcare, infrastructure, civil defense, and operational/management (i.e. politicians’ salaries). Or it could be as nuanced as specifying a specific project you as a citizen are interested in. of course there will need to be a predetermined minimum for each macro sector just to maintain basic operational costs.

    The method this can be implemented is during tax season you are given an additional forum that you can specify the percentage each macro sector is given.  With major departments listed below plus a write in slot for specific projects. Now you could have the option to disregard the form and everything will be set to “default” values. Unfortunately, this will make the collection process much more complex to record individual allocation and distribution, however with modern IT automation only initial setup would be difficult considering most people generate their tax forms online now. For those that don’t data entry personnel still exist. All taxes collected from businesses would be distributed evenly to the population as a whole to decide on how the money is spent (using the percentages from earlier) this would prevent large multi-billion dollar corporations from throwing all their weight around skewing the system to their favor.

    I would anticipate more than a few changes in what the government will look like. First of all this would give the country’s population more direct control of where they feel the money should be spent(and this is why it will likely never happen) I would expect to see a significant  funding increase to education and infrastructure with a significant decrease to civil defense. With this system I would expect to see; first a huge increase in advertising and public education in each sector as they (budget makers/politicians) will be trying to convince the public to give them funding rather than the publics representatives and will cause them to be much more transparent with their goals and what has been accomplished in the year. It would also put the government in line with how the population (that it is supposed to represent). Say for example the highways and water system are deteriorating significantly everyone bitches and moans about it but in this system, they would be incentivized to fund the infrastructure sector. You feel that teachers need better pay fund the education sector (and specify that it be for personnel) et cetera. Departments would trim back on unnecessary spending just to justify a larger budget for the next year.

    The public will also start to behave differently People with this power would be paying far more attention to what is going on in their own country and how THEIR money is spent. Since in the current system to have any significant impact you need to be a politician. Playing politics has always been a rich mans game making the working/subservient classes apathetic towards what the government dose as they effectively get no say. If it’s their own money, people suddenly become that much more keen on how its used. For example If they see some significant problems in one department or another it will see some pretty harsh cuts during the next year. Granted I will concede the fact that no mater how much power you give to the public, a very high percentage will simply be apathetic and leave it as default. However, I would anticipate the high-income population who tend to hide money in offshore accounts would do so less as they are effectively throwing away their say. I would also anticipate potential issues like media saturation close to tax time. And people trying to bend the system to suite their needs.

                    In the end this would give more power to the people than a representative democracy ever could. And instead of being resigned to complain about one issue or another they could have an actual say on spending decisions, instead of saying “don’t look at me, I voted for Kodos”. This will let the population literally vote with their wallets,