The Constitution the UK really needs

In the same tongue-in-cheek sense as how to save Africa, how to obliterate crime, and how to calculate what pension you need, I have a new idea that’d solve the tax-and-spend mania enveloping Britain’s government. (With the public sector now at 39.1% of GDP – higher than ever before – and rising despite the population growing much more slowly and with low inflation, it’s time for serious action.)

Here’s the idea: make voting rights conditional on being a net contributor to the economy.

That’s it. if you’re on the dole, or one of those 2m+ work-shy disability scroungers, or didn’t save enough to fund your retirement – I’ve no issue with it, but you just can’t vote any more. You’re not a net contributor to society and that gives you no say in who runs the country. Harsh but fair.

(The figure given for the net cost of an individual to the Exchequer is around £5000 a year, but this obscures the fact it’s a mean average. In reality the average Joe consumes far less than that; the figure’s bloated by the 20% of citizens who consume 80% of public resources. My impact on the public purse, for example, is practically zero: I live in a private estate, have private healthcare and pensions, and work in the private sector. I’m a massive net contributor, and I have more right to decide who spends that money than the dole cheat down the road.)

This policy would solve numerous problems.

First, it’d let politicians take unpopular decisions and think strategic and long-term instead of tactical and populist. 63% of the northeast’s GDP is in the public sector, because the way to win votes is to catapult buckets of cream into the homes of the hard-done-by. If those people can’t vote, they’re not important to election candidates, who can then cut public services to sustainable levels instead of pouring money down a bottomless hole. If the people want more services, they’ve got to start businesses, attract capital, bring more economic activity into the region – in other words, stand on their own two feet. Votes-on-merit would wean these people off the ever-lactating breast of the State and into real work.

It’d reduce the influence of those who contribute least. No loss there; they don’t vote anyway. But politicians are scared of them, because they shout the loudest … so public funding gets the life sucked out of it by ever-tighter red tape and special cases. This policy creates an incentive to continually renew the economy, keeping it nimble and robust instead of supporting dead industries at taxpayer expense.

It’d create incentives to work. Because if you’re not working and paying taxes, you’re not able to change your government. Similarly, it’d create incentives for private pensions and private healthcare, since these reduce your burden on public services. Which means the tax bill as a whole would shrink – lowering the bar for average consumption of public services and bringing some of the borderline disenfranchised back into the voting community.

It’d solve the trouble with Scotland. Specifically the West Lothian question (where Scottish MPs are able to vote on English matters and spending formulas allow them to raise public expenditure endlessly without having to pay for it). Addiction to public funding north of the border is so enormous that only 163,000 Scots – out of 5m – are net contributors to the Exchequer. The 4.8m Scots holding back the hard decisions the region desperately needs – irrelevant at the stroke of a pen.

It’d make people pay serious attention to the budget. After all, if the only people voting are net contributors, it forces politicians to pander to their needs – and lower their burden, by cutting fat out of expenditure at every opportunity.

And it’d give greater voice to the worst-off people in Britain: the put-upon middle classes, who pay virtually all taxes only to see their tax bills rise again and again.

Of course, the formula for calculating whether you’re a net contributor would have to be simple and transparent. Say a sum per family role per household (Man + Woman + Child1 + Child2 etc) with a multiplier for postcode affluence and a few balancers like average wage by region. (And of course each person only gets one vote no matter how big a net contributor they are, to limit corruption.) But I can see no bad side effects of this idea at all. It doesn’t even take away benefits from the parasites, sorry, ‘net consumers’: it merely creates an incentive for people to get off them, or to take responsibility for their own lives. It’d create a self-reliant society, vibrant economy, and an ever-shrinking State.

Hell, this idea is so big it needs to be Constitution, not a law.

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