Tag Archives: government

Actual Democracy Would Be Nice


First of all I want to express that I’m incredibly grateful and lucky to live in a country which has a democracy, and also to live in a time period where women have the vote.

But wouldn’t it be super awesome and, you know, right, if we had even more than that?

If we had an actual democracy?

I heard somebody saying, the other week, that true democracy means the people get to vote on every law that’s to be passed. Not just on what ”lesser evil” party they prefer out of an increasingly similar three or two choices. In the UK it’s not mandatory to vote, and many people don’t. ukpollingreport.co.uk says “Turn-out for the last few elections has only been around 60%”. One  might deduce from this statistic that just under half the populace is contented with things the way they are and are happy to let everyone else take the reins. Anyone with their eyes and ears open will contest this however, saying it’s not that they’re contented it’s just that none of the options (parties) appeal to them. Or they think it won’t make a difference. Or they think the polls will be skewed. Whatever the reason, the average Jo has much to complain about in terms of the government, and little in the way of warm fuzzy feelings of trust.

And is it any wonder we don’t feel our vote has much power?

Prime Ministers and Presidents aren’t under any legal obligation to do anything they say they will during their election campaigns. How ridiculous is that? Plus the two or three main parties seem to get more similar all the time.  And then all governments appear to have an outrageous weakness for corporations’ checkbooks. It’s almost like they’re more interested in money and power than the needs of the people… Hmm…

And then there’s all this controversy over the silly zero-heavy salaries they take home while the rest of us are staggering about in the grips of a recession.

I can’t help thinking perhaps all this politician malarkey is a bit of a waste of money.

Before you write me off as a crazy anarchist, let me make it clear that I do actually still want a government. Just a radically different political system. I still want a local MP to represent my views and interests. I still want specialists like the Minister of Justice, Minister of Health etc. But I feel it would be fair if we all voted on every law and policy.

I know what people will say to this:

“People aren’t well informed enough to know what’s good for them!”

Mm. Okay. But is that really a surprising accident? Aren’t we in, the West, conditioned to be stupid and thoughtless? Isn’t our education system tunnel-visioned on passing exams and securing a mind-numbing but well-paid office job? And isn’t our media stuffed full of, I’m sorry, inane bull***t, celebrity gossip, trivial sports statistics, barbie-doll beauty and ”reality”?

If we had the right (actually I think it should be mandatory) to vote on everything, then it should be the responsibility of the media to provide well-rounded education on all of the issues covered. There should also be regular free-for-all talks by specialists and coffee-shop discussions in every town. There should be discussion shows on TV where experts and ‘ordinary’ people with different views hash it out. There should be a plethora of events, talks, public debates, news and blogs to harbor a vibrant public sphere. People should be presented with the resources they need to form an intelligent opinion.

What do you think?

Tax It Up?!


Isn’t that a horrible word? I’m sure it fills you with that indignant feeling – oh great, there the government goes again, taking loads of my hard earned wages to spend on their 5 star holidays and second homes. Great.

But what if it could be a solution to the problematic discrepancy between environmental action and the profit-hungry market? Basically I think the tax system should be completely reworked so that companies are heavily taxed for any environmentally damaging behaviour. The money from these taxes should be put into a governmental fund and used for public spending on environmental protection, education, health care, community investments etc. This would mean pollution would be taxed, short-lived  poor quality designs would be taxed (encouraging high quality, long-lasting, adaptable products) and use of virgin non-renewable materials would be taxed (encouraging recycling and reuse). And they shouldn’t be the kind of sums that are crippling for small businesses but can easily be shook off my multinationals – they should be percentage based so big companies would need to avoid them to be viable. I feel this is a rather controversial idea and of course many business leaders would hate it. They would probably protest against such a scheme.

But… Tough? For as long as our world is based around buying and selling and making money, businesses will do what is most profitable and individuals will do what they can afford. Goodwill alone will not be enough if the entire economic system discourages it. A business is admirable if it uses renewable energy and pays extra for pollution to be cleaned up. Definitely it should be commended. But a lot of the time it won’t be, it’ll be punished with lower profit margins than if it had not been so responsible. This is an awful system – and the system needs to change in such a way as for ‘green’ practises to be the most financially viable way of operating.

People opposing such a scheme would probably argue that it’d be devastating to the economy. That most businesses would be unable to cope and would instantly go bust. Well, I think this is not necessarily true. It would favour different types of business perhaps, but this would be favourable to us as they’d be the types that aren’t trashing our’s and our children’s futures. It would open up huge opportunities for innovation and enterprise. And I’m not suggesting this should happen with no warning. If something like this was to be introduced, the government should issue a formal warning outlining all of the terms, and a big media hoo-ha should be ensured so that every business leader knows about it say one or two years in advance and has time to adapt her/his business to the changes before they occur. No only would this mean the environmental benefits from the changes would take effect sooner rather than later, it’d also prevent mass bankruptcy.

Companies that are currently incredibly environmentally damaging (Shell, McDonald’s, Esso, Monsanto etc etc) would obviously have the most work cut out here. But they should be cut no slack at all. If Shell can’t switch to generating renewables quick enough, if McDonald’s can’t switch to producing sustainable food quick enough, then let them fall by the wayside. They need to keep up with the times. If you think this is harsh, let me just say that killing off companies for the ‘greater good’ is not like killing people. Or even animals or ecosystems. Companies are economic/social constructs that might be allocated equal rights to actual individuals in America, but they shouldn’t. Of course they are important for the security of the people that work for them. But in the nicest way possible, these people could find other jobs if the company went down for this reason. And the ‘green collar jobs’ that we keep being promised would be springing up everywhere like weeds after rainfall. Greener companies would be flourishing with their non-tax-paying advantage and new ones that weren’t viable before would come into action. In fact, if grants and starter packs were supplied for new green businesses, I wouldn’t be surprised if this scheme would create a more prosperous economy than the one we currently have.

As you can see, I think the theory that has been around since the Thatcher government that things will be best if we just allow the market absolute freedom – getting out of the way as capitalism takes it’s course, only occasionally throwing money at the system if it’s not working quick enough – is pretty rubbish really. It’s concentrating wealth in the ‘top 1%’ while everyone else gets poorer, and is degrading the global ecosystem we all rely on in the process. I suggest that rather than acting as pawns in the chess game of money, we take the reins and use money as a tool for achieving a better world for the 100%.

I know this is all a bit controversial, and it’s just my opinion at the moment. I don’t even know if this is a good idea, not being able to tell the future. I just had this idea and wanted to communicate it to you.  So what do you think? Have you got a better theory? I’d love to hear about it.