It was at night in the time between sleep and waking, when all good ideas occur.
I had read an article about a political party that had no policies but would allow people to access websites to indicate how they wanted the elected members of the party to vote on any given issue. A form of instant and flexible democracy.
I found this particular idea appealing because, to my mind, one of the fundamental problems of Australian democracy is that once you elect a party, you’re stuck with them for the next three years and are also stuck with the policies they may not have enunciated during the election campaign. You’re also stuck with their backflips and broken promises.
You have to take a lot on trust.
So a system that allows the electorate to make decisions on specific ideas like Do we go to war in the Middle East? seemed a pretty good idea.
So here’s my contribution to the idea of flexible democracy.
Everyone in Australia should have the option of deciding how their taxation is spent.
Here is how it would work.
Everyone is required to pay certain amount of tax each year, in this case for argument’s sake, $25,000.
The federal government builds a website that would list all major expenditure programs and the taxpayer could decide which programs their $25,000 would be allocated to.
So it might be $10,000 to Health, $5000 to Education and $10,000 to Defence. With that fairly general allocation, the federal government will then be able to decide how the taxpayer’s money is spent within each portfolio.
It should also be possible to fund specific programs hence limiting the discretion of the politicians in the allocation of the money.
So if you choose to give $5000 of your taxation to education, you may also choose to allocate all of it for early childhood education. You might want to spend all $10,000 of your defence allocation on submarines or on benefits to soldiers injured on active service.
You would also be able to pay more money in taxation if you wished.
The advantage of this system is that it would be politicians an excellent idea of the priorities of the Australian population in regard to Federal government expenditure and limit their ability to allocate funds to, or away from, programs that do not fit their specific ideology.
It would also limit the extent that politicians like Bronwyn Bishop could use the Parliamentary allowances system as a personal piggyback because parliamentary perks would be one of the items on the website.
What is the betting that no one would allocate any money to it?