Friday, July 14, 2006

Vote with your pocketbook; spend your franchise

The other day I heard the expression "vote with your pocketbook" for about the zillionth time. For the two people in the world who have never run across this expression, it simply means that if you don't like something you should spend your money elsewhere. Once enough people do this, the entity responsible for the object-non-grata will either get the idea and change or go out of business.

My mind took a weird twist this time, however, and I started wondering what would it be like if the metaphor worked the other way around? That is, instead of likening economics to politics, what would happen if we likened politics to economics?

For example, give everyone 100 "voting dollars" per year. Just like with real money, you could spend all your voting dollars on one candidate in one election or spread it across several candidates in several elections. The candidate that received the most voting dollars wins the election. Some interesting things become possible in this system:

- I can express my political opinions with much finer granularity. I can show EXACTLY how much it means to me that candidate X beats candidate Y.

- If I'm a "think globally, act locally" kinda guy, I can choose to blow all my voting dollars on local or state elections and none on national elections. Or vice versa.

- If I think all the candidates suck (which happens more often than I like), I can save my voting dollars. Then when a candidate comes along that I REALLY believe in, I can give her a much bigger boost. (But should I get interest on my voting dollars?)

- How about extending the concept beyond candidates to issues. E.g. maybe it takes 15 billion voting dollars to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

It won't ever happen, but it's fun to let your mind wander once in awhile...


At 3:27 AM , Blogger Oksana said...

spend your franchise
I don't understand what do you mean in this phrase, I'm interested in this topic, because I've got my own franchise information blog.

At 8:42 AM , Blogger Mike Burr said...

As used in this post, "franchise" refers to a person's right to vote for government officials. The point was to present some different views on how voting might work in a democracy/republic based on how money works in a free market.

At 4:54 AM , Blogger татьяна said...

Are you talking here about franchise or about politics? I think that new franchise is a great way to start your own business, but what do you mean with politics?

At 9:01 AM , Blogger Mike Burr said...

Enough of the spam, please. If you won't do the rest of us the courtesy of reading replies to previous comments, then I won't do you the courtesy of leaving your advertisement on my blog intact.

At 11:13 PM , Blogger Spudrick said...

Just happened upon this while Googling the phrase itself for other purposes. Very funny concept that may in fact be practical. However, here's the problem as I see it. If there is no expiration on voting dollars and they in fact roll-over like so many unused cellphone minutes Election results will be skewed to favor older voters who tend to vote more conservatively because they have not used there allotment in previous elections.
It also begs the questions. What if I save up all my election dollars for fifty years and then up and die the day before the election? can I will these voting dollars to my children?
Of course, some idiot will figure out ways to corner the market on these things and eventually become the Bill Gates of voting dollars forcing Vista on the American people via constitutional amendment.
No I think they must be non-transferable and have a one election expiration.


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