Home / General / Koch U Professor Calls for Less Democracy

Koch U Professor Calls for Less Democracy

Comments
/
/
/
582 Views

imagesmonopoly-man-small

It’s hardly surprising that George Mason University, which has become a national embarrassment for its willingness to take right-wing money to hire professors with little interest other than to produce right-wing propaganda, is now seeing its professors calling for less democracy in order to create “good governance.” It may not surprise you that said good governance will coincide with the interests of the Koch Brothers rather than workers and everyday people.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • c u n d gulag

    Our “New Gilded Age” calls for an inherited aristocracy to run this country!

    Who can make better decisions than the people who inherit their wealth and power from their families?

    Obviously, THEY made the right decision BEFORE they were born!
    The rest of us chose less wisely…

    • Derelict

      Hey! You were free to be born to any set of parents in this world.

  • Derelict

    Only people who are “knowledgeable” should be allowed to vote?!!?! And I wonder who, exactly, gets to determine what constitutes “knowledgeable.”

    “Sure, you have a Master’s degree, but you can’t recite John Galt’s speech in its entirety, so I can’t let you vote.”

    • Nobdy

      Great idea, guys! We could have a test of some skill you need to acquire knowledge. Like literacy. We could have literacy tests for voters!

      Why didn’t anyone ever think of this before?!

    • Murc

      Only people who are “knowledgeable” should be allowed to vote?!!?!

      This is one of those things I kinda-sorta agree with in theory. Much of the electorate is completely incompetent to exercise the franchise. I personally have voted in elections I really, really should not have.

      The problem is that there’s absolutely no way to regulate that that won’t turn into a method by which the most powerful oppress the least powerful. None whatsoever. So that being the case, the only thing to do with the franchise is to make it as broad as possible, as easy to exercise as possible, and as formally and informally protected for everyone as possible.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        Well, there are things we could try…just to see how they work.

        Not that stupid “literacy, history” stuff, too EASY. Nope, gotta answer a question using Calculus of Variations if you want to vote.

        Try it out on the GOP primaries first, I think.

        • Boots Day

          I suggest we keep it simple, with just one correct answer required in order to vote. And the question should be: “In what country was the U.S. president born?”

          • brewmn

            Win.

            • los

              “What is a President?”
              “What is today’s date?”
              “What is the first letter in the English alphabet”
              That last alone should filter out many of the teaple hoo hav lerned to speek winglish

          • JMP

            What about “how old is the Universe?”?

    • Malaclypse

      And I wonder who, exactly, gets to determine what constitutes “knowledgeable.”

      I’m assuming this is an attack on the 17th Amendment. “Knowledgeable” = “easily bought state legislators.”

      • It could be an attack on the 21st. “You are a drunken sinner and your mind is too fogged for the vote.”

  • rea

    Jones says that less democracy and more epistocracy could lead to better governance. Democracy leaves power to the majority while epistocracy allocates power to the knowledgeable.

    The problem is, while Jones calls for power to the knowledgeable, the party he actually supports is the party of ignorance, prejudice, and rejection of science.

    • Rob in CT

      “Knowledge” = agreeing with wingnuts.

    • Davis

      The Kochs are behind the propaganda claiming that those “knowledgeable” climate scientists are completely wrong.

  • Sly

    This just in: A technocratic libertarian believes all political power should be concentrated in the hands of technocratic libertarians like himself. In related news, water still persists in being wet.

  • The Margrave of Brandenburg, Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire

    Why only a 10% reduction in democracy? If we limited the franchise to three ecclesiastical voters and four secular voters, imagine the unbridled economic growth we’d see!

    • Gregor Sansa

      How about 6 Catholics and 3 Jews?

      • Did they all walk into a bar?

        • witlesschum

          No, one ducked.

          • rhino

            two wins in one thread!

  • dmsilev

    Terry Pratchett’s Ankh-Morpork has a one man-one vote system. Patrician Vetinari is The Man, and he has The Vote.

  • rdennist

    Amusingly, when I read this post, the following quote popped into my head. After all, no need to worry about the particulars of democracy; better to let our betters handle the details, tell us what to do.

    “Alpha children wear grey They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. “

  • mtraven

    This is nothing new, Bryan Caplan, one of the more egregious GMU profs, wrote a book attacking democracy in 2008.

    Boldly calling into question our most basic assumptions about American politics, Caplan contends that democracy fails precisely because it does what voters want.

    • djw

      Yeah, before clicking the link I assumed this would either be Caplan or Ilya Somin.

      • Joseph Slater

        I was guessing Somin too. But on second thought, although Somin’s premise that “voter ignorance” is a huge problem could certainly lead to the conclusion that the solution is limiting the franchise to the (somehow-to-be-determined) less ignorant, at least his posts at the VC seem more to be arguing more that therefore the government shouldn’t do much.

      • If you click through to the source, you will find that the speaker Garett Jones relied heavily on that book by Bryan Caplan to support his argument.

      • Brett

        Caplan’s so weird. I remember when I first read some of his posts at EconLog. I got the weirdest impression that I was talking to an alien who was imperfectly trying to mimic a human being, but failing because he doesn’t quite catch the subtext of human interaction.

      • Area Man

        It was Caplan, if you follow the link to the original article:

        Jones’s talk heavily relied on Mason economics professor Bryan Caplan’s book, The Myth of the Rational Voter where Caplan outlines four democratic biases which are worsened as elections near. These biases are the anti-market bias, make-work bias, anti-foreign bias, and pessimistic bias.

        Voters are stupid because they don’t follow Caplan’s particular set of biases.

    • ChrisS

      democracy in the US fails because some votes are weighed differently … like votes for senate seats. Why Wyoming has two senate seats (instead of say 2 for the entirety of the mountain west), I have no idea.

      • Bufflars

        It’s not even just Senate seats. The small population single-Congressional-seat states have votes weighed significantly higher than the large population states like California.

        In my mind, with every census the number of seats in Congress should be adjusted so that population of the smallest State becomes the population size of Congressional districts nationwide.

        • Lee Rudolph

          In my mind, with every census the number of seats in Congress should be adjusted so that population of the smallest State becomes the population size of Congressional districts nationwide.

          At the moment, that’s almost exactly the case: Alaska (the least populous state) has population 736732, which is between 1/434 and 1/435 the present population of the US.

          And, contrary to your preceding sentence, California has 53 Representatives for its population of 38.8 million, meaning one representative for every 732000 residents (plus change).

          • NonyNony

            Wyoming has fewer people than Alaska – as of 2010 it was sitting at 563K.

            (Vermont is also smaller, with 625K as of the 2010 census. The District of Columbia has more people living in it than either Vermont or Wyoming, which only adds to the insult of their lack of representation.)

            • Bufflars

              Yeah, looking at the data some more the discrepancies aren’t as large as I thought for most of the states, the wide variations really only occur with the very small states. It does seem somewhat suspicious that many of the southern states have a proportion of voters to congress people in the mid to upper 600,000s vs the nation average of ~730k. But perhaps this was done with the assumed higher growth rates of those states making them about equal in ratio as we get closer to the next census.

            • Lee Rudolph

              Oops. I was reading the 1960 data.

              Clearly I should have been paying much more attention to my Excel spreadsheet lessons in pre-kindergarten.

        • NonyNony

          I agree with this, but it’ll never happen. It would dilute the power of each individual House members substantially to add another 200 voting members (which is why my eyeball estimate suggests we would need to make the House actually proportionate to the rest of the country).

          • Bufflars

            I agree, ideally representation would stay approximately equal and the size of the House would grow with the population.

            • liberalrob

              Let’s go back to the proportion prescribed by Article 1 Section 2, 1 per 30k citizens. I’d love to see the House of Representatives have to subcontract out the Verizon Center to hold its sessions, with over 10k members…

        • xq

          Those are both small deviations from democracy compared to the effects of gerrymandering + concentration of Dem voters.

          • NonyNony

            Not really – the uneven distribution of Senators is a major part of the reason why concentration of Dem voters is a problem. If Senators were apportioned via population instead of “2 per state” the effects of concentration of Dem voters in high population states would be much less.

            And gerrymandering would be less of a problem with more House members. The smaller the ratio of citizens to House members, the harder it is to gerrymander. If the law were 1 House member for every 100K citizens it would be substantially harder to cut up Dem representation by carving up small portions of cities and attaching them to large rural districts (see Ohio) or create large urban districts that concentrate as many Dem voters into a single district as possible (see also Ohio). The smaller you make that ratio, the more you ease up on both of those problems.

            (This is also another reason why nothing will be done about it – the current system preserves power for a minority that would never have it if our representative system were anything close to actually proportional to our voting citizens beliefs.)

            • xq

              Not really – the uneven distribution of Senators is a major part of the reason why concentration of Dem voters is a problem.

              I don’t think so. In theory it could be a huge problem, but in practice the correlation between state population and party isn’t very strong; e.g. Texas partially balances California. OTOH, Democratic voters are pretty much universally more common in denser areas.

              And gerrymandering would be less of a problem with more House members. The smaller the ratio of citizens to House members, the harder it is to gerrymander

              I’ve had this argument about 5 times on LGM without resolution, and therefore have little interest in rehashing it, but, to my knowledge, no one has ever demonstrated that this is true. It is not as trivially obvious as many seem to think it is.

        • los

          Rewording… The state with lowest population would be given a single house of reprentatives seat. This population would define the population size of each house district of all states. However, some states’ districts would need more extreme rounding than others.
          The formula should set some max and mins else when all 50 states have hypothetically near equal population, the House would consist of 50 seats.
          so, for fun… liberals should split California into 37,253,956 independent, though regionally cooperating, states.

      • Latverian Diplomat

        I think moving to a parliamentary system with party list voting would solve a lot of our problems, but it’s hard to think of a reform that would be harder to sell to enough of the American people to actually enact it (a wholesale rewrite of the significant parts of the Constitution being required, enshrining political parties as institutions instead of theatrically but toothlessly frowning on them, etc.)

    • Linnaeus

      Even before that, you can look to Samuel Huntington’s “democratic distemper” and the subsequent “crisis of democracy” that, in his view, follows from that: democratic systems break down when too many disparate interests make claims on democratic government, so this needs to be balanced by shifting some power back into the hands of people and institutions that are not democratically accountable and for participants in democracy to exercise “self-restraint”, i.e., by not participating as much as they claim they have a right to do.

      • indefinitelee

        see also Sidney Tarrow The Very Excess of Democracy

      • wengler

        Is it as good as Sam Huntington’s ‘Islam Is Out to Kill Everyone’? I think we should repeal the direct election of US Senators and then launch a new crusade.

        • Hogan

          We could do one like the Fourth, where we set out for the Holy Land, then decide “fuck it” and sack London or Paris.

          • los

            because China is to difficult. or was that Japan?

        • Linnaeus

          Is it as good as Sam Huntington’s ‘Islam Is Out to Kill Everyone’?

          Oh, it’s one of his greatest hits.

    • gmack

      In some sense, I would be inclined to argue that conservative thought is defined by its opposition to democracy. One of the basic hallmarks of conservative thought is the idea that beings have a “natural” place (or at least, that humans need some basic mythology, as in Plato’s myth of the metals, that explains why everyone has the social position they have and why they need to stay there). Democracy is, among other things, the practice of people moving out of these prescribed places.

      • Manny Kant

        Conservatism in the original sense – whether the continental, Metternichian variety or the English Tory one – pretty clearly involved straight up opposition to democracy. Continental conservatism didn’t really make its peace with democracy until after World War II.

      • wengler

        Conservatism is at its basis a defense of all power to the top of a well-defined hierarchy. It gets confused in the US because of rightwing populism emphasizing ‘states’ rights’ but these are just code words for racial subjugation.

      • los

        Whence the frequent tea aphorism, “America is a republic, not a democracy!’

  • Nobdy

    Why would the Koch’s want LESS Democracy after buying up the system we have now? With Citizens United and their Tea Party subsidiary they should LOVE democracy. “Democracy” is what allows them to turn money into power, which they can turn into more money! What a virtuous cycle.

    By the way, are we just all supposed to accept “economic growth” uber alles at this point? The point where we’re LITERALLY trading democracy for a little more “economic growth?”

    What use is economic growth? It’s great insofar as its proceeds are used to help the poor and disposessed, and I’d love to see more homes for the homeless and medicine for the sick, but speaking as a relatively affluent white guy, I don’t really need any more economic growth for growths sake. If it’s just going to mean a few more dollars in my pocket and the pockets of people even richer than me, well, I’d rather have the democracy, please and thank you.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Oh, it’s basic business logic:

      First, you spend lots of money to dominate a market and drive out competitors.

      Second, you raise prices, cut costs and quality to rake in the loot.

      They’re almost finished with phase 1, getting ready for 2.

      • los

        Phase 2, more explicitly: Faithful teas force the dissidents into the Koch Kamps; the dissidents soon followed by the useful tea idiots themselves.

    • rea

      And of course, “economic growth” is a euphemism for “cut taxes on capital and the rich, slash programs for the poor and middle class, deflate the currency.”

    • Bufflars

      It’s funny that the Kochs have made far more money during Obama’s presidency than they had all throughout their lives up until 2009. In fact, in the last 40 years it seems that corporations and corporate leaders tend to do quite well during Democratic presidencies. You’d think that after a certain point it might dawn on them that rabidly pushing for retrograde Republican economic policies might not even be in their own best interests…

      • xq

        I think it’s a mistake to view the Kochs or those they fund as being driven purely by narrow self-interest. They have an actual ideology, and are willing to sacrifice to some extent to advance that ideology.

        • dr. fancypants

          It’s also easy to tell themselves “yeah, we’ve done well under the Democrats, but think about how much better we would have done if the Republicans had been in charge at the time!”

          I think that’s of a piece with the ideological point you raise. They genuinely believe their policies are better for business, so this is how they resolve the cognitive dissonance.

          • Malaclypse

            It’s also easy to tell themselves “yeah, we’ve done well under the Democrats, but think about how much better we would have done if the Republicans had been in charge at the time!”

            Year before last, we got a 0% rate change on health benefits, which hasn’t happened in forever. I tell the owners the good news. First words – I kid you not – “They would have gone down except for Obamacare. Everybody knows it is driving up costs.”

            • NonyNony

              Your business’s owner thinks that insurance companies give rate discounts out of the kindness of their hearts? And would have given out bigger ones had the ACA not passed?

              I’d like to get his address. There’s an affinity scam a business opportunity I’d like to try out on him pitch to him and I suspect he’d be the perfect sucker to make me a mint be very interested in my pitch!

        • los

          It’s a greater mistake to assume the Koch’s can distinguish between hallucinations of the Glorious Koch Reich and their avid pursuit of the next of cyclical collapses of civilization.

      • wengler

        Republicans cut their taxes and let them flex their muscles against labor. I think the Kochs could care less that they are making less money overall. It’s all about power.

        • Linnaeus

          When you have as much as they do, they probably don’t miss it. It is about power.

        • los

          Yes… their psycho-emotional motivation is the classic tinpot dictator’s lust for superiority over the subhumans, regardless whether the continent has degraded into a wretched Banana Republic.
          Don’t overlook that ruling the whole planet is the Kochs’ goal, though they won’t live long enough to conquer China.

  • Xabi

    So glad these guys (and Papa John!) are starting one of their wonderful freedom centers here in Louisville.

    Sigh.

  • Murc

    Y’know, I’m open to the idea that there are areas of governance that need to be insulated from the tyranny of the majority. I think the evidence is pretty clear that electing judges and sheriffs, for example, has been a dismal failure.

    But… legislators? As in, the guys who actually make laws? The single most powerful branch of government, the guys who, if they get all their cats properly herded, can remove Presidents, toss out Supreme Court justices, or just about anything else they want?

    Yeah, you want those guys to be as democratically responsive as humanly possible.

    • xq

      I can’t find what Jones actually said anywhere; the article didn’t make clear what his actual proposal was or if he even made any. But, yeah, the US could use “less” democracy in a lot of areas for certain meanings of “less”, judicial elections being a good example. We should have fewer elections (because voters are worse in non-presidential elections) and fewer elected positions.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        There are lots of cases where dictatorships were better than democratic governments. Think about it would you rather be a Black man in Alabama in 1930 which had a democratically (majority) elected government or a citizen of Singapore unde Lee Kuan Yew? The US promotes a vision of democracy abroad that is based solely on the election of governments by a majority and nothing else. This is part of the disaster we had in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, I saw first hand how it led to the US govt. and academics supporting the democratic government of Otunbaeva which oversaw the racial lynching of over 400 Uzbeks in the summer of 2010.

        • Malaclypse

          Why in the name of fuck would you call 1930s Alabama a democracy, given the severe restrictions on the franchise?

          • J. Otto Pohl

            Because like Israel over 51% of the people living in it could vote. That is majority rule and that is how the US defines democracy for foreign states. That is why it supported the Otunbaeva regime even though Ata-Meken (Kyrgyz KKK) was part of the government.

            • J. Otto Pohl

              But, if you don’t like Alabama I can give other examples. How about being a Palestinian in the West Bank vs Singapore? There are plenty of majority elected governments with human rights records worse than some dictatorships. India, the US, and even France with regards to Algeria (claimed to be an integral part of France) have a pretty poor record on minority rights in the post-WWII decades. In many cases the average citizen of many dictatorships were better off than minorities in democractic states. I would rather be an average citizen of a dictatorship like Chile under Pinochet than a Dalit in India.

              • Tybalt

                …and I’d like being a billionaire in Euqatorial Guinea better than either, so clearly that’s the best system of all. Thanks for offering such a helpful and balanced thought experiment.

              • los

                * Comparing the untouchable caste of one system to the middle class of another seems biased.
                * A democracy isn’t complete without those ‘bill of rights’ mechanisms. I prefer the term ‘representative’ rather ‘democratic’ to denote a fully legitimate government. (so regarding your ‘outlier’ example, I’m not familar with Singapore, but my guess is that Singapore significantly repressed freedom of the press.)
                * I think benign dictators are uncommon.
                * Also consider that democracies (or non–democracies) in formative years aren’t stable…

          • Lee Rudolph

            The thought experiment J. Otto proposed was to install an actual “democracy” in the sense of universal suffrage with strict majority rule and no recourse for minorities in 1930s Alabama (where, I assume, the white population was greater than 51 percent of the total). There might, indeed, have been small sub-state units (towns or perhaps whole counties) with black elected officials: but surely there would have been nothing but white rule at the state level, and in the large (that is, allowing some exceptions “in the small”) it would have been just as hellish as it was in the actual 1930s Alabama with its “severe restrictions on the franchise”. At least, that’s what my thoughts tell me, and what I assume J. Otto’s tell him.

            • J. Otto Pohl

              I don’t require universal suffrage to call something a democracy. The US in the 1930s of which Alabama was a part was democratic in the sense of a majority of citizens having the right to vote.

              • Area Man

                If all you’re saying is that democracy gives bad outcomes for people who are not allowed to represent their interests, this is a trite observation and does not in any way support the notion that less democracy is better.

                • J. Otto Pohl

                  I am saying that in practice many democracies treat people far worse than a number of dictatorships have. In many regions of the world less democracy has in fact proven to be better. Kazakhstan is more successful than Kyrgyzstan in part because it has a well run authoritarian government rather than a poorly run democratic one.

                  In Africa today Rwanda underthe dictatorship of Kagame is today doing better than the Ghana and Nigeria under democratically elected governments. There is a reason why many African intellectuals even today think multi-party electoral systems modeled after Europe are worse than developmental dictatorships that can deliver economic and social development. It is why Nkrumah, Nasser, and Sankara continue to be popular. In contrast the democratically elected president of Busia overthrown in 1972 showed that just about the worst thing that can happen to a country is to have a person with a PhD in Sociology elected to be its president.

  • Manny Kant

    My favorite part is the “reduce democracy by 10%” part, which is such self-evident nonsense that I have a hard time seeing how he could get through it with a straight face. What does that even mean?

    • The Dark Avenger

      It means he picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

    • Murc

      I think we all know what it means; it means cutting out ten percent of the electorate.

      I’m sure this guy has a whole book of code words to describe which ten percent he’d prefer.

      • Nobdy

        If only “those people” could be easily identified.

        Maybe some kind of color coding system…

        • postmodulator

          Armbands? Has anyone tried armbands?

          • Snarki, child of Loki

            “Armbands?”

            Too easy to lose/change. Maybe sewing a symbol on the clothes?

            • postmodulator

              That’s a good solution! Might be the last solution we ever need. You know, the ultimate solution. Last solution…Damn it, what’s the word I’m looking for here?

            • Lee Rudolph

              Tattoos. Definitely tattoos.

            • los

              Yes, where ‘armbands’ are worn out holes in their Sunday’s Finest, and Joni Ernst’s hand-me-down plastic bread bags are saved rather than sacrificed as 43 second shoes.

    • Linnaeus

      It’s a kind of quantitative rhetoric – the “10%” figure is intended to make his claims appear more exact, scientific, and hence authoritative.

    • JKTH

      It means eliminating three states.

      • postmodulator

        And yet he is a crackpot.

      • ChrisS

        Just three? Does he want suggestions? I can name three right away and few more for good measure.

        • rea

          10% of 50 = 5.

      • Mike R

        May I suggest these possible candidates for the three states, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina, and for good measure throw in North Carolina or Texas.

        • postmodulator

          Needs moar Florida.

          • Lee Rudolph

            The ocean is taking care of that.

            • liberalrob

              And good chunks of the other candidates as well.

        • ColBatGuano

          Come on, no Georgia? Arkansas? How about Oklahoma?

    • Honoré De Ballsack

      It’s because the US is 10% more exceptional than any other nation has ever been.

      • liberalrob

        Or will be.

        (Game of Thrones ref!)

  • matt w

    I’m annoyed at this guy for stealing the name of a beloved ex-Pirate (and current Yankee, alas). Also for being an asshat.

  • ChrisS

    Politicians try to please the public at the expense of neglecting long- term policies because they are elected through a democratic process.
    You know, I think this guy should take a look at how corporations are run – and they aren’t beholden to the general public. I think he’d be surprised.

    • wengler

      It’s surprising that he didn’t endorse the corporate model as a substitute for democracy. Right now it’s so indirect. Those with money funnel it into those they want to win. Why not just sell voting shares in American elections?

    • Pseudonym

      Actually that might strengthen his point; look at how publicly held corporations are beholden to the quarterly numbers and compare that with the long-term focus of, to pick a random private company, Koch Industries.

      • los

        A CEO’s fiduciary duty is to the shareholders only when the shareholders are the CEO.

  • sibusisodan

    For example, Jones said senators act like voters have short term memories. They make decisions to get reelected rather than spending their whole term focused on long-term growth.

    An ‘epistocracy’ focussed on long term growth would wind up strongly favouring Democratic economic policies rather than anything in the R playbook (based on historical economic performance in the last few generations), so we could finally ignore Laffer et al.

    He’d be happy with that, right?

  • This guy is clearly an asshole, but it’s worth pointing out that restricting the franchise (“knowledgeable”, “skin in the game”, etc.) isn’t a new phenomenon at George Mason. Rick Shenkman of HNN explicitly called for just that in his execrable book “Just How Stupid Are We?“.

  • D.N. Nation

    “Dr. Garett Jones, professor of Economics and BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University”

    LOL

    • liberalrob

      Awesome, isn’t it? I picture him with big BB&T and Mercatus logos on his ceremonial robe like a NASCAR driver…

  • keta

    I think he gets one thing right:

    Politicians try to please the public at the expense of neglecting long- term policies because they are elected through a democratic process.

    For example, Jones said senators act like voters have short term memories. They make decisions to get reelected rather than spending their whole term focused on long-term growth.

    He just gets the reason (my bold) dead fucking wrong.

    The thing I find enormously funny in his whole premise is that rather that promoting educating the entire electorate to make better decisions at the voting booth, he advocates for disenfranchisement. Of course, the reason for this is simple: knowledgeable voters, people who deal in facts instead partisan rhetoric and fear, will overwhelmingly vote for the other guys.

    • The problem is “under-educated voters”, but the answer is never “better education”.

  • Lurking Canadian

    It should never be forgotten that “less democracy is better” was the stated, avowed policy of presidential candidate Mitt We-shouldn’t-discuss-tax-rates-in-public And-only-the-wealthy-should-hold-office Romney, too.

  • dr. fancypants

    I’ve met a number of libertarians who argue in all seriousness that the franchise should only be given to people who (a) own property, and/or (b) “pay taxes”. Item (a) always ends up meaning they should be allowed to vote everywhere they own property. And when you push them on (b), it turns out they only ever mean federal income taxes. So this proposal seems pretty mild to me as far as libertarian bad ideas go.

    (BTW, the justification on (a) is always some bullshit about how only property owners have any vested interest in the community, which reaffirms my understanding that a doctrinaire libertarian is someone who has managed to remain completely ignorant of how the real world works.)

    • John F

      (BTW, the justification on (a) is always some bullshit about how only property owners have any vested interest in the community,

      I believe the expression is “skin in the game”

  • JustRuss

    Years ago our CIO left to work at George Mason. Shortly after her departure, we found out she had racked up a deficit to the tune of several million dollars, resulting in years of austerity for us peons who she left behind. A couple years later GM suffered a huge, embarrassing data breach, and I must admit my Schaden was very Freuded.

    Ever since I’ve kept an eye open for news pertaining to George Mason, and they do seem to suffer from an unusually high level of ass-hattery.

  • pianomover

    Isn’t this a call for a return to the democracy established by the founding fathers? A democracy controlled by wealthy white Christian males.

  • J. Otto Pohl

    The extreme emphasis on democracy meaning in practice just majority elections by the US government in foreign lands to the exclusion of human rights has been a disaster. I can think of lots of real cases where dictatorships were better than democratic governments. The total number of people killed by the Bakiev dictatorship in Kyrgyzstan was 84. The Democratic government of Otunbaeva who replaced it and brought in the racist and facsist Ata-Meken party oversaw the brutal lynching of at least 400 Uzbeks due solely to their race. It also saw a year of systematic police harrasment of foreigners from 2010-2011. As a white American I didn’t have more than regular police stops and one search for drugs. But, my African colleagues were treated with an extreme racism that did not exist under the dictatorship, but was openly encouraged by the Democratic government that replaced it. The support of the racist Ata-Meken party by the US government and scholars like Eugene Huskey because it was part of a democratically elected government was shameful. We should chuck democracy promotion and go back to supporting human rights.

    • wengler

      Context is everything. A reduction of 10 percent of democracy in 2015 in the US isn’t going to lead to greater support of human rights. The US is already not the most democratic place in the world.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        That wasn’t my point. My point was the democrats supported by the US government and people like Dr. Huskey in KG were racist mass murderers. That is not an improvement upon dictatorship in many cases.

        • ColBatGuano

          So basically completely off-topic?

          • Hogan

            That’s our Jotto!

    • Pseudonym

      What happened in 2011 to end this reign of terror?

      • J. Otto Pohl

        First the economy collapsed in part because they had no tourists. Then there were new elections held and Otunbaeva was no longer head of the government. Later Ata-Meken left the ruling coalition. But, basically the new government ordered police to lay off foreigners because it was killing the economy.

        • Pseudonym

          So democratic accountability does have certain advantages.

  • But! But! I thought Democrats were the “elitist intellectuals” who think they know better than everyone else?

    It’s so hard to keep up sometimes.

    • Pseudonym

      They’re the wrong kind of elitist intellectuals: they’re not businessmen who actually build things with the sweat of their brows. They’re just public college professors leeching off the government’s teat and corrupting our youth, and anything such a person says should therefore be ignored.

  • “Dr. Garett Jones, professor of Economics and BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ..”
    “Study” must be a typo for “worship”.

  • TexRipples
  • monad

    George Mason University, which has become a national embarrassment for its willingness to take right-wing money to hire professors with little interest other than to produce right-wing propaganda

    I haven’t been at Mason in 10 years, and haven’t paid much attention to it since then. But Tom Lovejoy, who hasn’t exactly spent his career producing right-wing propaganda, was hired into a high-profile professorship in 2010, which seems to be a significant confounding data point to your assertion. Obviously he has a really high salary, and he probably really wants to stay close to DC, but surely he could (and surely would want to) get an equivalently good job at Georgetown or Maryland or somewhere else in the area if there wasn’t quite a bit of really good work being done in conservation biology and policy at Mason.

    But, like I said, I know next to nothing anymore about the university, so maybe I’m wrong.

    • Pseudonym

      Perhaps the Koch influence is confined to the economics department and the Mercatus Center, but those seem to be the areas where George Mason comes up most often in the news.

      • Hogan

        Check out the law school.

        • Pseudonym

          I’ll leave that to Campos, thanks.

        • monad

          The law school and economics department are nutty, but the nuttiness there seemed to me well compartmentalized away from the rest of the university, which otherwise appeared to be a completely normal & pretty solid state university. (Although, I didn’t have any coursework, or other academic or even social connections outside of computer science and engineering and math, and all of that was a decade ago, so my perspective is pretty limited).

It is main inner container footer text