The relative stake different socioeconomic groups have in both the economy and the political system.

In the US voter turnout rates varies directly by income.  This is not a two-variable causal relationship as many other variables, mostly associated with income, come into play.   The 2008 election demonstrates the relationship.  Here is a link  to see it on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout_in_the_United_States_presidential_elections#/media/File:Voter_Turnout_by_Income,_2008_US_Presidential_Election.png  I chose this diagram as it broke the income groups into 10 rather than two or a few categories.

Overall I would argue that the underlying explanation, while complex, involves the relative stake different socioeconomic groups have in both the economy and the political system.   That is the more affluent a person is the more he or she is able both to benefit from public policy and perceive that he or she can have a marginal, small to be sure, impact on public policies in the future by voting.  Perceived benefits and costs from public policies that the affluent recognize along with civic responsibilities such as voting provide a more coherent picture of being part of the body politic.   The less affluent, in contrast, are more likely to perceive they are at the mercy of public policy.  I should think the less affluent would be less likely to perceive their concerns and needs are considered when policy is made; and, the less affluent are less likely to expect their votes matter.

This contrast across the continuum of economic groups and their levels of participation is likely exacerbated by the issue content of elections in the last half century:  welfare reform, lower taxes, drug tests for public housing residents, stop and frisk, public health funding to name just a few.  The lower one’s income the more recent changes in social welfare programs have caused financial challenges to one’s daily life and existence.   To a very real extent the concerns by taxpayers over funding social welfare policies is a direct attack on those who rely on those programs.  How could a public welfare recipient feel part of a political and economic system that publicly declares they are, at best, a drag on growth and prosperity?

One of the prevailing “stories” about America is that if a person works hard that person will become a success.  That belief belies that well over 99.99% of those of us who judge ourselves successful had a lot of help from family, neighbors, public servants, pastors/priests/rabbis just to name a few.  However, the further one’s parents are down the income ladder the less assistance one will receive from anyone to be success.  Indeed, the farther down the income ladder the more obstacles and impediments to becoming successful one will encounter.

It is no accident that there is a strong positive correlation between an individual’s income grouping and one’s parent’s income grouping.  I am not arguing that hard work doesn’t pay.  However, if you are doing a menial task for a living you receive a menial wage.  It is difficult to amass a fortune on a menial wage no matter how hard one works.  Things like housing, transportation, clothing, medical care/insurance, can quickly become unaffordable on a menial wage.  Then people earning a menial wage, like everyone else, have children or parents or both who are in some fashion at least partially dependent on one for their housing, transportation, clothing, and/or medical care/insurance.  Just because one does a necessary task that folks who had more support can avoid should not condemn one to being on the socioeconomic and political margins.  But it does.

Having a wide spectrum of needs based programs, we call them entitlements, that a significant proportion of our citizens rely upon with another significant number of our citizens decry and do not want to pay taxes to fund creates all the necessary ingredients for civil strife–potentially a class based civil war.    Yet, this potential conflict is not necessary.  Rather it is an artifact of how we create money and how we redistribute money through government taxing and spending policies.  Our approaches to both monetary and fiscal policy are the basis of a big share of our political conflict.

If we did not maintain income transfers through government we could mitigate some of the core conflicts in the American Society, Economy, and Polity.  If you look closely at the proposal for creating new money through all the sovereign citizens and giving the government’s a stipend in lieu of a tax base you will find it obviates the need for the lion’s share of entitlements and the resentments those entitlements engender from those paying for the entitlements with taxes they pay.   You will also find it largely removes the largest reason for the differentiation among givers and receivers from public policy.  Finally, if you stop the incentives for lawmakers to play favorites based on campaign contributions, you begin to equalize the playing field for all.

A more equalized playing field will not automatically and quickly create more successful people.  But it will make it possible to prove that success can be attained without such a strong correlation to one’s parent’s income levels.  For example, the voting age is 18.  So, when a person reaches the age of participatory citizenship that person will have resources that are not dependent upon his or her parents for support for job training or a formal education.  Or, an 18-year-old could approach self-sufficiency.  That could prove a break on crime, hopelessness, veterans’ adjustments to separation, again to name a few.

One policy issues that will need to be addressed is the practice of withdrawal of civil rights from ex-convicts.  I should think it would facilitate their reintegration into society if they were finished with their rehabilitation and punishment when released from incarceration and their rights restored at that point.

Another policy issues that will need to be addressed is the content of educational curriculum.  It would be expeditious if all citizens had some personal finance training and a firm grasp of how governments and the political processes operates.

Turnout will increase across all income groups.  While paying citizens to do their civic duties of voting, jury duty and educating their children and the like is not quite the same as requiring citizens to vote, the financial penalty for not voting largely obviates any difference between the system I propose and compulsory voting.  Hence, we need to examine the impact of compulsory voting in the 22 nations that have it.

Two Arguments to Democratize Money: Inclusion and Equality

In rereading Hamilton’s Introductory passage to the Federalist Papers, I am initially struck by two things.  First how much people have changed the way they use the written language over the past couple of hundred years; for a modern reader, Hamilton’s 18th Century, eloquent, and persuasive prose is heavy treading. And second, how accurately Hamilton’s description of the 18th Century political climate in America describes early 21st century American politics. Keep in mind that Hamilton and the others writing as Publius were advocating the adoption of the Constitution.  They saw entrenched interests as wanting to maintain the Articles of Confederation.  They called the opposition to ratification conservatives. What Hamilton and his coauthors realized was that the strongest opposition to change is always from those who benefit the most from the status quo.  Conservatives do not say “I think I will personally loose as you gain because of this change.”  Equally, they do not say “I think this change is bad for me.”  If either of those statements is true they can and do argue any of several, supposedly altruistic positions: the proposal is untried and thus vulnerable to causing harm the status quo is not causing; no other place does it that way; with a few minor  modifications the status quo can be made to work better; or they make personal attacks on those advocating the change and sine the person is bad so is the change the “bad” person advocates; but if all else fails they can utter the most dangerous statement in any language “We have always done it this way. “

Unless those opposed to change specifically present an evidence based argument their opposition is at best suspect.  However, that same logic must apply to the advocates for change.  Change advocates must present evidence based arguments as well.  That is precisely what Hamilton, Jay and Madison did as Publius in 85 newspaper articles in 1786 and 1787 (Independent Journal, New York Packet, McLEAN Edition, and Daily Advertiser).  Equally, it is incumbent upon this author to make an evidence based argument for the proposed changes in how money is created and eliminating private money from influencing the decisions made in governing (public policy) and who governs (elected and appointed officials and bureaucrats).

THE INCLUSION ARGUMENT

Even prior to the Declaration of Independence in 1776 the American states, while still colonies, had a broader base of citizen participation then did the Mother Country or any other nations at the time (and most today).  Indeed, the sovereignty vested in citizens and dependency upon their consent begins in the Constitution argued for by Publius and others: “We the people of the United States.  .  . Do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. “ (Preamble)

In 18th century America electors, citizens eligible to vote, were determined by the states.  Initially, states designated male, property owners who had attained their majority as electors.  Gradually in the early part of the 19th century  the several states increased the number of citizen electors by including all males.  In the post Civil War amendments black males were included as electors.  Following WWI, women became electors.  And later in the 20th century the poll tax was abolished and age of majority was  reduced to 18, both by Constitutional Amendment.   Both expanded the right of franchise to more Americans.

THE EQUALITY ARGUMENT

I argue that this history of franchise extension represents a systematic historical imperative to include all citizens as electors—participants in the government and governing of America.  Indeed, this imperative to include all citizens as electors is driven by the Creed expressed in the Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (people) are created equal.  .  .”  Neither the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence provides any basis for granting any citizens or citizen electors a greater voice than any other citizens or citizen electors in choosing elected officials or determining public policy (laws).  Yet by allowing individuals or corporations to make unlimited campaign expenditures, our laws grant the supremacy of well healed citizen electors or corporations in America regardless of the citizenship of that corporation’s share holders or officers.  This supremacy is possible through a Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United v.  FEC in 2010.  For well over 120 years prior to the Citizens United decision, law makers at both the state and federal level had attempted to impose limits on how much money individual citizens and American corporations could contribute to candidates and political parties.  This even though both individuals with money and corporations maintained lobbyists and made regular and large campaign contributions to lawmakers who voted on campaign expenditures limits.

Political science texts on American government and politics contributed to the fiction that campaign contributions were not quid port quo arrangements.  Indeed, office holders explained in depth that campaign contributions did not and would not influence their votes in legislative bodies.  Yet there are curious correlations between the interests of campaign contributors and the committee assignments of legislators receiving those donations.  In the 1950s Anthony Downs published his Doctoral dissertation with Harper and Row under the title An Economic Theory of Democracy.  One of the deductions Downs deprives from a model of a representative democracy is that public policy in a democracy will have a producer bias.  I would Hazard to amend that to say public policy in a democracy will have a bias towards moneyed interests.

A producer or moneyed interest public policy bias does not smack of the equality of citizens in a representative democracy.