Utopia (16): Gotta earn it
October 7, 2008 Leave a comment
- “Strange,” Susan says, “I teach these things, actually, but I can’t remember talking about it above the glass of beer. I can’t remember talking about it on the first meeting either.”
- “If it’s boring topic for you we might try something else!” I say.
- “No, no, no problem with that, really… I’m not sure if it’s good idea to get to know you better when you don’t remember anyway,” Susan is teasing me. “So the voting system. It’s very easy actually – whoever gave to the state more than he took from it during the last electoral term can vote. The term lasts for four years and you can add your tax payments from the previous term if you had not voted.”
- “But you work, so you must pay more to the state…”
- “Yes, but…”
- “Ah, you’ve mentioned it! Public school!”
- “Exactly. Public and state administration employees only take, so to say it.”
- “Eating our taxes,” Caren grins.
Susan points to her with the “you’re right” gesture without taking it as an offense.
- “One thing I don’t know,” I wonder, “is how you got to this system, because I can’t imagine the way you took rights from people.”
- “Ok,” Susan grins, “I really am the right person to explain as I teach the same in schools. Small kids though. Anyway… UK had one significant advantage. We had no vote rights for women, not every man was allowed to vote either. That plus the end of the war and general expectation of big changes prepared a great breeding-ground for new ideas – even for big political changes. Lloyd George influenced by open society advocates from States announced series of changes – voting rights reform was amongst them.
At that time – in 1918 – members of the House of Commons were elected for particular electoral districts called constituencies. There were some constituency border adjustments and the number of members was changed to 707 – so they all still fit into one chamber.”
- “That’s very important,” Caren smiles.
- “It was actually!” Susan argues, “with no hi-tech means of communication. Now both chambers consist of elected members and it’s one big body, not two houses. But that time the House of Lords still existed and it would have been too bold to dissolve it.”
- “I understand,” I nod. “And what about those voting rights?”
- “Right,” Susan continues. “To emphasize the idea that the state is here for the people and not the other way around, voting rights were reformed so that administration were not allowed to vote because they are possibly affected by the election results and/or they have their own private interests aside from their opinion on how the country should be managed. Women were granted the right to vote and the age for vote right was lowered to 18 as well.”
- “So anybody working in public administration can’t vote?” I asked.
- “No – it’s actually derived from how much you gave to the state. If you payed more taxes than you received from the state you have… let’s say earned your voting right. This right is reviewed for every election.”
- “And what about companies owned by the state… that is if you have some.”
- “Funny,” Caren entered before Susan’s response. “Normally you are nicely integrated into our society, but when we’re discussing it you always say about me and you. “
- “Alright… sorry for that, but in cases like these it’s still something new for me and in that case it’s apprehensible.”
- “I guess so.”
- “So, a state-owned enterprise,” Susan goes on, “is a company like any other – it just happened to be owned by the state. You might argue that in that case you can’t give anything to state when the state pays you… transitionally. However – in contrast with administration – company have a production, it participates on GDP and actually generates wealth. You can’t say the same about administration.”
- “Mhm, right, I can’t. But you’re not in the administration either.”
- “Sure, schools are not exactly administration but they don’t add to GDP either. We depend on state management, on how the state redistribute its money, and we can’t vote. There are private schools, there are even state-owned school – but commercial – their employees can vote. I work for public school that is the part of all services provided to us by the state. I can go to commercial school, but I don’t care that much about my vote, although I am interested in politics.”
- “Strange,” I was surprised. “How can you be if you can’t vote?”
- “Why can’t I be? I attended some canvassing, I talked with people, I even personally know my delegate – although I would vote for someone else. “
- “Me too!” Caren professed.
- “Me too would vote for someone else?” Susan smiles.
- “No! I know Jerry Cooper!”
- “Ok then, I officially applaud,” Susan nicely nodded towards Caren.
- “Seems like I’m the only one who doesn’t know him!” I said.
- “No, not really, many people doesn’t know their delegate so well, actually,” Susan disagreed. “But I still hope most of them checks on them from time to time and most of them knows someone who knows. That should do it.”