Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Worst. Politlcal. Argument. Ever.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably never heard of Vin Suprynowicz. And if you’re like me, you’re going to find your first introduction to him a mixture of amusing and absolutely revolting. Why? Because he takes the position, believe it or not, that no one on welfare should be allowed to vote — only those who are “net taxpayers” should be allowed to vote. No, seriously.

Here he tries to explain why so many states originally restricted voting only to property owners, which he thinks is perfectly okay:

In fact, the states long set such a requirement as a wise prophylactic against the famous dictum, attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouse, that, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.”

The original link was to property ownership because (before the income tax) the main source of tax revenue was the property tax (even for the central government, which if in need of “direct” tax revenues was supposed to assess the states, per capita). Thus, anyone who owned real property was a taxpayer, with an obvious vested interest in electing only delegates who would be frugal with the tax revenues.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, the average modern voter is going to be far less concerned about cynically wasteful or frivolous spending if he or she considers those tax revenues to come “from someone else — you know, ‘the rich.’ ”

In that column I offered the refinement that in the early 21st century the franchise might be extended only to “net taxpayers,” to achieve the same result in a world where plenty of people appear quite wealthy, own homes and so forth, but are actually living mainly on taxpayers’ funds, looted under threat of force, removing said recipients from the group who have a vested interest in seeing government limited and tax revenues spent frugally.

And he explains his plan and how it would be determined who is and is not allowed to vote, which seems to exclude not only anyone on welfare but anyone who works for the government:

Posit a couple of retired federal workers, aged 57, living together in a modest $700,000 house in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington City and collecting dual federal pensions worth $250,000 per year. Living with them is a grown daughter — an unmarried schoolmarm on the government payroll — and a grandchild attending the public schools.

The value of their federal pensions, the teacher’s tax-paid salary, and the welfare benefit accruing to them as the taxpayers fund their grandchild’s education exceed anything this family pays in taxes.

Therefore this entire family are “net tax recipients,” not “net taxpayers.” Under my proposal, they would not be allowed to vote to bolster the ranks of the tax-and-spend crowd.

On the other hand, posit a struggling young couple living on a couple of acres of cold and rocky ground in Idaho, in a small shack with no central heating or indoor plumbing, growing potatoes and home-schooling their two kids. The property taxes, sales taxes and excise taxes they pay on their tires and gasoline do exceed any tax-funded “benefit” they receive from the government. Thus, this struggling couple are net taxpayers, and would be allowed to vote under my hypothetical proposal.

Where does one even begin to assess such a ridiculous proposal? First of all, where is his concern for corporate welfare, the sheer numbers of which dwarf all social welfare payments by a huge amount? He wants to exclude everyone on any kind of social welfare and even those who work for the government or have a government pension, even if entirely earned. But what of those whose entire living is dependent upon corporate welfare?

What of the defense contractor who relies on billions of dollars in government contracts, especially when they use connections to keep unnecessary and unwanted weapons systems in production even after the military says they don’t want them or need them? What of the huge agribusiness interest that derives a huge percentage of their profit from farm subsidies, getting billions of dollars in taxpayer money every year when the only tradeoff the rest of us get from that is a higher price for our food and more foods made with high fructose corn syrup?

He’s worried about those on welfare voting for those who will give them more largesse from taxpayer accounts, what of the oil companies who preserve their profit position through billions of dollars in tax breaks, subsidies, loan guarantees and regulations designed to protect them from competition? What of pharmaceutical companies who get rich off government contracts that explicitly prevent them from negotiating a lower price? Last I looked, all the food stamp and Medicaid recipients in the entire country together didn’t have the resources to hire even a single lobbyist to fight for their interests the way big business does.

Does Suprynowicz think those kinds of welfare should disqualify someone from voting? If so, he doesn’t mention it. Instead he focuses his ire on school teachers and postal workers and firefighters, who would be denied the vote merely because they work for the government. And if he does think this should apply to corporate welfare, how would he apply it? Would he prevent the boards of directors of that company from voting? All the shareholders? The workers?

He doesn’t say, likely because his whole plan really comes down to “screw the poor people.” What an asshole.