Voting Rights Only for Property Owners – Yes or No?

I like to read history books, and recently read something that changed my opinion.

People in this part of the internet tend to be either conservative or libertarian, while socialism is frowned upon. We’re also aware there is such a thing as the tyranny of the majority, and that democracy should not be unlimited.

This is why I sometimes hear the sentiment that only property owners should have the right to vote.

I see the reasons behind that:

1)      People vote with their left foot. They don’t necessarily think things through, or read everything each candidate says before voting. That seems like a good reason to restrict voting rights, or make sure everyone can only vote after gaining a minimum of understanding of what they are voting for. In fact, there is a funny moment in history that shows the bad consequences of not knowing what you are voting for. After the 1848 revolution in France, the French people suddenly got the universal male suffrage. The peasants ended up voting for Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, simply because he was the original Napoleon’s nephew, and the name of Napoleon was associated with good things. They didn’t hear much about the other candidates. He quickly turned himself into another emperor and got all the power.

Heheh.
Suckers.

2)      People shouldn’t be able to vote themselves into other people’s money. Yes, if one is allowed to vote for a candidate that promises to take from the rich and give to the poor, many people will.

This is, however, just one side of the story. 19th century England shows how things can get, if only property owners get to vote. England was the country who started the industrial revolution first, and was in the 19th century very rich and powerful partially because of all that industry. The capitalists of that time were, in theory, fans of the free market, and many books were written on how great the free market is for the wealth of a nation. However, in practice they were very unlibertarian in their deeds. In practice, people who owned land and capital also sat in the government, and did whatever they could to protect their interests.

One example is the Corn Laws. English landowners noticed that imported corn was cheaper than their own, so they imposed excessive tariffs on the imported bread, making their own bread cheap by comparison. This lead to a crappy life for wage workers. One time, they went demonstrating against it, and got mercilessly chopped up and trampled by the cavalry. The government thanked them.

The Peterloo Massacre

The Peterloo Massacre

Another example is artificially hobbling the bargaining powers of the wage workers by illegalizing labor unions and striking. All this lead to a crappy life for wage workers.

At the same time, certain intellectuals showed up, and told the workers that socialism is the way to go. Instead of addressing the unfair laws, socialists suggested more unfair laws, just in the opposite direction. They helped everyone learn to resent the whole system where labor is bought and sold, and everyone gets only as much as they deserve. I can hardly blame them for the resentment, even if it was misdirected.

Thus, by not allowing everyone to vote, the property owners abused their power, allowed socialism to creep in and destabilized a good thing. You can get away with exploiting and marginalizing a small portion of population, but not a large portion of the population.

So what does this mean? To me, it means that allowing only property owners to sit in the government is a bad idea. And allowing only property owners the vote might boil down to exactly that, eventually.

Poor people shouldn’t be able to vote themselves into welfare and rich people shouldn’t be able to vote themselves into artificially hobbling their competitors. The solution to both seems to be to have a constitution that can’t be changed by voting, and allowing everyone to vote.

USA has those things, more or less, but it’s still kind of a mess. I guess even if you have a good thing to begin with, it will still become destabilized one way or another, just in a different way. But exploration of those ways is a topic for another post.

What do you think? :0)

P.S. : I never studied political science or anything, so if you have, and this all sounds stupid or “well, duh” to you, bear with me.

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30 Responses to Voting Rights Only for Property Owners – Yes or No?

  1. I’m of the opinion of property owners as the only voters.

    It’s not that I don’t see your points or disagree with them, it’s that I see far less abuse of power historically from an educated minority of voters versus an uneducated majority.

    In addition, it is not exactly hard to own property in the US right now. Though how the law was eventually worded could exclude people that don’t technically own their home yet, but whose home is owned by the bank via loans. I could go either way on that – it isn’t exactly a sign of prosperity or wisdom to have a home the bank owns.

    But owning a home is the best sign I’ve been able to think of that you’re a productive member of society who has a long term stake in a community rather than traveling around with no strings attached. The first kind of people are the ones I want voting, not the personal freedom loving man with wanderlust, but the man who loves the freedom of his country and what it does for his family. I’d also include small businesses as property owners, so if the man without a home he owns has an apartment or two and a business site or two, and goes between them, that’d count because he’s building communities up.

    These educated upper middle class have the best interests of the country in mind far more often than any other class. And property owners will outnumber the wealthy elite owners you’re worried about in this post.

    The only other exception I’d give votes to are those that have served in the military. If you put your life on the line for the country, you get to vote for the rest of your life. Don’t know if I’d extend that to non-combat roles if you don’t serve in war zones, but war zone non-combat get a vote too.

    But every country that seems to have given out universal suffrage seems to have tanked into socialism given enough time. The US is proving it supremely well, with shouts of ignorance, “Obamacare isn’t socialism!” Awwww, sweetheart, that’s cute that you don’t know what you’re saying, but it is. So is every other government program that is popular with the masses.

    • Liz says:

      “In addition, it is not exactly hard to own property in the US right now”

      And when those who are permitted to vote (in hypothetical “better world”) decide to make it a lot harder…what’s to stop them? Furthermore, what is to stop financial oligarths from buying the vote by buying up property? They buy votes/influence now indirectly now, by offering jobs in districts, and other “sweet deals” to representatives and constituents. In this case they could simply do it directly, and it would even be a lot cheaper. They could rent the property out and still turn a profit, while ensuring that the masses never get a vote that might go against ownership interests. Critical reality: Laws are passed, and enforced, by the government.

      “But owning a home is the best sign I’ve been able to think of that you’re a productive member of society who has a long term stake in a community rather than traveling around with no strings attached.”
      Actually, family (especially children…before welfare and unwilling fatherhood theft anyway) would ensure the highest long term stake in community.

      • Your response is hilarious in its ignorance, lack of historical knowledge, and misunderstanding of current politics.

        Don’t fret, I’ll respond more in depth tonight. But first I have a 12 hour work day and 3 or 4 hours of church events tonight.

        In the mean time, I’ll ask you to ponder this:

        How is the family under any less attack than land? Take a long term look at it, rather than just since the rise of Feminism destroying the legal bindings of family. Look at England after Henry, or even all the way back to the serpent tempting Eve – the first such attack on the family.

        After doing so, let me know how you think the family can’t be manipulated as much as this land ownership you’re so afraid of.

        Pro tip – the divorce of land ownership from voting rights was an attack on the family in and of itself.

      • Liz says:

        “Your response is hilarious in its ignorance, lack of historical knowledge, and misunderstanding of current politics.
        Don’t fret, I’ll respond more in depth tonight. But first I have a 12 hour work day and 3 or 4 hours of church events tonight.”

        I anxiously await your enlightenment.

        In the mean time, I’ll ask you to ponder this:
        How is the family under any less attack than land?

        It isn’t under less attack than land. Since I never made the assertion that voting should be contingent on having a family, I’m not sure what point you are trying to make?

      • Liz says:

        Thought I’d add:
        “After doing so, let me know how you think the family can’t be manipulated as much as this land ownership you’re so afraid of.”
        Obviously the family CAN be manipulated. Happens especially when a small group of people with a lot of power have authority over the government (See Stalin and Mao’s regimes). But altering families en mass require major social change, which happens over time and is comparatively difficult. Lot easier to take a piece of land.

        If you’re going to cite the government of England as your tyrannical regime example that led to a functioning Democratic republic, I’ll see your England and raise you Nationalist China and the USSR. One key reason our nation didn’t descend quickly into anarchy and/or another tyranny as the French, Russian, Chinese revolutions did was because our founders didn’t create a foundational document (the Constitution) that would empower a small group of geniouses to do great things. They designed a document that would ensure a group of complete imbeciles couldn’t do too much damage. And it worked very well, for the most part (exhibit A: most of the free world has attempted to emulated it). They might have been a group of rich landowners, but they did not envision a nation that would represent only landowners.

        While we’re exchanging Pro tips – Stooping immediately to insults (when no insult has been thrown at you) is almost always a poor reflection on oneself, but throwing insults while talking about going to church events at the same time is a poorer reflection still. It’s also a poor reflection on your religion (as a Christian, I do take an interest).

      • ” Since I never made the assertion that voting should be contingent on having a family, I’m not sure what point you are trying to make?”

        yes you did. That or you’re just being disagreeable for the sake of being disagreeable. Very possible, and even likely. You put forth a disagreement with my thought that land ownership is the best way to gauge a productive citizen in terms of determining voting rights, as below:

        “Actually, family (especially children…before welfare and unwilling fatherhood theft anyway) would ensure the highest long term stake in community.”

        So, since you claim not to believe in voting rights centered on families, and already said you believe my idea of voting rights based on land on poor, and I see no point at all to your long diatribe supporting an idea that you claim you never asserted, I see no reason to take you seriously. Do you have anything intelligent to add to the original conversation, would you like to make more claims you claim not to make, or would you like to continue simply being disagreeable?

        Your pick cupcake.

      • Liz says:

        “You put forth a disagreement with my thought that land ownership is the best way to gauge a productive citizen in terms of determining voting rights, as below:

        “Actually, family (especially children…before welfare and unwilling fatherhood theft anyway) would ensure the highest long term stake in community.””

        I do disagree with the statement that land ownership is the best way to gauge whether a person has a longterm stake in community. I do not have to believe that a person needs to have children to vote simply because I disagree with your statement. Nor is that ipso facto disagreeable. Family is the best way to ensure the highest long term stake in community. It certainly isn’t an infalliable way, nor should it be a litmus test for voting. I probably should have used the word “best way to ensure”. Regardless, the vote should not depend on whether or not a person has a family any more than it should depend on whether or not they offer volunteer services in the community, or participate in community building activities.

        I own, and/or have owned, property in three different states. My “loyalty” towards those communities is far lower than the loyalty I have to the community I now reside (though I don’t own a home here). In the areas I own, I rely on a property manager and the self-interest I have begins and ends with the value of the property. By contrast, the community where my children are growing up, living and going to school is far more important to me. I volunteer here, I keep a close watch and spend my free time nurturing community connections. If I was single and without children, I’d get a high paying job in the city and not give a tinker’s damn about the community at large…if it sucked, I’d just move to a better one when the itch hit…whether I owned property or no.

        On that note, I see little reason to engage you further either. You leave a metaphorical sucker punch and promise to return and school me later on all my “ignorance”. Still curious about the specifics you believe I have erred on history (didn’t throw much history out) and/or current politics. Now the obtuse “cupcake” treatment. I don’t play highschool.

      • And she chooses disagreeable AND snowflake, with a liberal seasoning of solipsism. Man, I knew I left options out on that multiple choice answer.

        Your response is coming. Be patient dear.

      • Liz says:

        Thanks in advance.
        Just started reading your thread (will continue, but the kids are rising out of bed and I’ll be busy for a while) on the topic and wish to respond (quickly) to the first bit.

        I do not “take offense at your strong views on Land Ownership”. Nor have I “put forth the idea that having a family is a better choice” for determining who votes. I put forth the idea that having a family is a better measure for longterm stake in community. That is NOT advocacy for family-only voting. There are a hundred reasons why the vote should not go to families only (though fewer than the property argument), and since I am not asserting only those with families should have the vote in the first place it is an irrelevancy.

        This is an illustration of the absurdity here:
        Hypothetical, equal-but-different argument 1 (You): “Everyone should have to know calculus to vote because this ensures every voter is smart!”

        Hypothetical, equal-but-different-rebuttal to argument 1 (Me): “I disagree. Not every person who knows calculus is smart, nor does one have to know calculus to be smart. An IQ test would be a more reasonable indication that a person is smart.”

        HEBDA to rebuttal (You): “You are laughably ignorant of history! And a solipsistic snowflake too. Now explain why you think people should need an IQ test to vote! And stop being so disagreeable…”

      • Liz says:

        I read through what you have stated thus far, and have no disagreements aside from what I already stated. I’ll add I don’t believe my responses here have been as logorrheic as you imply.

      • Liz, the reason I refuse to engage you directly here is because you’re not engaging the discussion at hand – how to best measure a large population of whether someone should receive voting rights.

        Instead, you simply disagree with me and change the subject. The first time you did it subtly enough I didn’t notice the change of subject. So yes, I thought you ignorant and misinformed because I operated under the assumption a commenter her at Emma’s would avoid such snarky behavior of beginning an intellectual fight for the mere sake of doing so rather than exploring the topic that Emma wrote about. What’s more, after my initial response to such subject change, is you change the subject to yourself, and how you’re such a special exception to the rule.

        You’re obviously intelligent, but you’re miserable to engage with because you’d rather show off yourself and how you as a woman can measure up rather than present an idea or belief that measures up to the problem we’re discussing. Which is fine – but as long as you continue to do so I find it difficult to engage your ideas rather than yourself and your style of debate. Nor do you inspire any reason for me to make the attempt, so I won’t. If you think that your ideas are less important than yourself, continue to behave and debate exactly in the manner you currently do, and I will continue to treat you exactly as I have. If you want me to engage your ideas, get yourself out of their way or stop moaning when I deliberately throw you aside to get at the ideas I’d much rather engage with over yourself as a person.

      • Liz says:

        “Liz, the reason I refuse to engage you directly here is because you’re not engaging the discussion at hand – how to best measure a large population of whether someone should receive voting rights.”

        The topic is: “Voting rights for property owners only, yes or no?” I have not strayed from the subject by countering your point. I’ve also asked direct questions that you have refused to answer. If I’ve deviated from that in any way, it’s only to refute baseless ad hominem claims.

        Perhaps I should start using a male handle. I will not debate you again. When you calm down, in a few days, you should really take another look at this discussion and read it with honest
        detachment and see how your communication style might improve if you truly want to convey your ideas more effectively when engaging others who question you.

      • You’ve done nearly nothing BUT avoid the discussion, as I’ve already pointed out. Now you offer a parting shot that amounts to, “You mad, bro?” as if I cannot say these things while calmly drinking my coffee, eating breakfast, and looking at the discussion with an objective eye. Your whole attitude and mode of discussion is classic trolling behavior, and it’s been long enough since I’ve encountered it that I didn’t see it swiftly enough to realize my folly and now would take the opportunity to point out to others so they can avoid it.

        Male or female handle has nothing to do with it.

      • Liz says:

        Emma, do you believe I’ve engaged in classic trolling behavior on your site here?

      • Liz says:

        I’ll await Emma’s reply. The following is my actual “parting shot” with you:

        I read and contribute on various political blogs (these days mostly the manosphere, in days-gone-by more general political discussions), and have done so for many years, because I believe that if you cannot explain why you believe what you do, then you most likely don’t really believe it. It’s important to hone one’s belief system to determine whether one’s ideas live up to scrutiny. I like to test my views against those of others and see how they stand up. If they don’t, they evolve. So I ask questions. I challenge ideas.

        I’m reminded of a story about two woodcutters. One was young and strong and hacked away non-stop from dawn to dusk. The other was wiry and old and spent most of his time sitting quietly.

        Yet the old guy consistently cut down more trees than the young one. The young guy asked “How do you always cut more wood than me when, every time I look, you are just sitting down?”

        The reply? “I wasn’t just sitting doing nothing. I was sharpening my axe.”

        This is how I sharpen my axe. If this is how you respond when your ideas are challenged, (personal attacks, refusal to answer direct questions) you aren’t sharpening yours.

      • emmatheemo says:

        Sorry I did not reply before. I will. I was just very busy right after making this post (still working on something, but won’t take forever).

    • MawBTS says:

      I don’t agree that property ownership means you have a stake in the community. You might have it for tax reasons, or for renting, or as an investment. You might not even be living in the same country.

      • emmatheemo says:

        True.. Perhaps the only thing you would care about is whether the community is stable enough to still have your property sitting there. Small details might as well be ignored.

    • Emma the Emo says:

      “It’s not that I don’t see your points or disagree with them, it’s that I see far less abuse of power historically from an educated minority of voters versus an uneducated majority.”

      I’m not really sure if I’m for giving everyone the right to vote, I just see the point in not restricting it to property owners only. Education, IQ or something similar could be the restricting factor instead.

      However, the broadened definition of property might work too.

  2. Government debt all over the world is a consequence of democracy. Those who promise more perks and incur more debt usually win elections.

    There is a cultural difference between Northern European countries and Southern European countries. In Norway you can win an election with an austerity and stability platform. Not so in Italy or Greece. Now these free spending nations vote, democratically, that Germany will have to bail them out and ultimately pay their debt.

    If the debt crisis will not lead to the collapse of the world currency and financial system, the Euro will. Interestingly,

    There one suggests a plebiscite would doom the Euro bailout policy. As long as it is voted on a national basis and not Europe wide. The German population would not have approved of the Euro in the first place, and certainly does not approve of the bailout policyl

    On the other hand, the elites have powerful ways to manipulate the system and to manipulate the opinion of the masses. This is probably a counter weight against the selfish vote of the poor masses.

    To be really provocative, one could suggest that the right of women to vote led to socialism, unjust family court systems, rape laws that defy due process, general laws against male sexuality, and general laws that distribute money from the richer to the poor, and especially from men to women.

    Finally, one could make a point that a certain amount of education and IQ is necessary to be able to make an informed vote. Uneducated and unintelligent people who have no understanding of economics, finance, law, and logic can not really vote intelligently and are easily manipulated by slogans.

    • Emma the Emo says:

      “Those who promise more perks and incur more debt usually win elections. ”
      Is it possible to get into power that way, even if the constitution is pretty libertarian?

      “Finally, one could make a point that a certain amount of education and IQ is necessary to be able to make an informed vote. ”
      I was thinking about that too. Maybe there should a test you have to pass, which determines whether you understand what you are voting for, or not.

  3. Liz says:

    Securing property rights is one fundamental purpose of government (a purist might argue it’s the only purpose of government). So on that note, I don’t see how handing voting authority to property owners only would be any curb on any evil. Government itself determines property ownership, and property ownership in this case would determine government. A myopic with advanced cataracts could see that leading to tyranny.

    People fearing the type of Socialism that follows a Representative Democracy should take a look at the type of Socialism that follows tyrannical government.

  4. Eric says:

    Emma:
    I think HS has the start of a good solution; and that would be to require people to pass an IQ test (with a minimum of about 110)and show functional literacy before being allowed to vote. Also, those not meeting those standards would disqualify anyone from holding public office. That alone would solve about 90% of the problems mentioned.

    Of course, the odds of this happening are minimal, since if such a law were enacted it would decapitate most of the US government (e.g. Obama and his cabinet; probably 98 of our 100 Senators and 432 of our 435 Congressmen and the entire Supreme Court) would be forced to resign. The attrition at the state and municipal levels would be even higher.

    Sigh—but we can dream can’t we?

  5. Pingback: Voting Laws – Land or Family? « stagedreality

  6. Clarence says:

    Leap of Beta’s entire argument breaks down once a majority of essential productive work (protection, provision,cleanup) is able to be automated.

    But then I don’t think he’s thought very long and hard about the higher goal of what it is to be a human.
    Is it to play trading or monetary games with other people? Is it to be a lonely totally self-sufficient island? Or is it more to try to make a better world for those around you?
    When humans are defined by nothing but their doings (and not even moral or ethical doings at that) then when something comes along that makes humans unnecessary it is logical to somehow remove the human element (and this can be done in many horrible and some not so bad ways). Also, when someone becomes old (even if otherwise happy), sick, or what have you… well, it’s time to ‘cull the herd’.

    Then there’s his confusion of the physical /ecological economy (e.g. the amount of food a given land and technology can produce without overburdening the local ecosystems) with the more abstract ‘human economy’ that is largely totally unrelated to the actual inputs and outputs required. If one actually takes the physical plant required for the current economies on this planet Earth every single human is a ‘mooch’ of some type or another and will be so until we actually start importing stuff from and producing things in outer space.

    Also, children literally ARE the future, but somehow he denigrates the ‘production’ of them by women (and the larger hoped for raising of them by their parentS) as something totally valueless. Yep, a poor family man is almost literally worthless.

    Oh, then there’s the fact that many, possibly most men (and a great deal fewer but still some women) are willing to buy sex. Sex isn’t something that only a few people have to give, yet it is a very powerful force that influences much human behavior and there’s no doubt that a rather huge economy can be built on sex all on its own. Yet somehow I don’t think people who got lots of capital out of sex related activities would exactly qualify as voters in Leaps world.

    Basically, trying to orient the future to the technology of the past is a hopeless endeavor.

    And since I don’t buy the basic premises his entire argument falls apart. I don’t think you can tell much about a man or woman’s ‘productivity’, ‘usefulness’ or much of anything else from whether they own land or not.

    As for me, I think voting should be based on some sort of education and intelligence test , and little else. I might make an exception for removing the vote for those convicted of serious crimes (murder, treason, rape), but that’s as much ‘moral’ judgement that I’m ok with applying to voting.

    • Liz says:

      “And since I don’t buy the basic premises his entire argument falls apart. I don’t think you can tell much about a man or woman’s ‘productivity’, ‘usefulness’ or much of anything else from whether they own land or not.”

      Agreed.
      I do not think owning property is much of a measure of either a person’s productivity, value to society, or (as I mentioned at least thrice above) longterm personal stake in community. I also envision an insane potential for graft under such a system.

  7. Gilgamesh says:

    Instead of trying to decide between property or no property, when not just limit the vote to men with families, since they’re guaranteed to be net producers?

  8. King of World says:

    You are wrong to focus on particular policy outcomes rather than on the principle of the matter. There exists an original right inherent in ownership of land, that is to pursue one’s own interests in the land that one owns. Consequent to this is the notion that only those who actually own a part of the country (that is, some land of the country) have a concrete interest in the country’s future, and, therefore, any right to act in pursuit of said interest. Allowing those without land to vote on the course of the country is the equivalent of allowing those without any shares to vote for the president of a company; it doesn’t make any sense, and any good it does won’t be for the good of the country (or the company).

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