Thursday 5 May 2011

Democracy, but only if you pay for it

Today The Telegraph's Ian Cowie has stooped to a spectacular low that makes the Daily Mail look all sunshine and rainbows. He proposed that only those who pay a minimum of £100 a year in income tax be allowed to vote.

Clearly the motivation behind this is to destroy the left wing vote. It will mean that those who typically vote left would be excluded from voting: The unemployed, the low-waged, full-time students, etc.

Of course, it would have a massive effect on us disabled people. Though Incapacity Benefit and ESA are "taxable" benefits, they're not enough per annum to pay income tax on!

He says:

Restoring the link between contributing to society and voting about how it is run would be a sensible first step.

So he thinks disabled people who volunteer for their local youth work charity aren't contributing to society? That people who care for a disabled loved one aren't giving back to the country they're claiming benefits from; despite saving the state £87bn a year? That the unemployed person who runs a Brownie pack is just scrounging and providing nothing in return?

Possibly his sickest claim of all is:

This modest proposal would, however, exclude large numbers of people who have no ‘skin in the game’ and who may even comprise the majority of voters in some metropolitan areas today. Their contribution is not just negative in financial terms – they take out more than they put in – but likely to be damaging to the decisions taken by democracies.

I compromise the majority of voters? What, by contributing to a site like this which exposes just how shafted disabled people are?

I have no "skin in the game"? Right, cos it's not like disabled people are dying because they lost their benefits; and who knows if at some point in the near-ish future that I'll lose my piddling income and find myself as one of them?

I'm damaging the decisions taken by democracies? What? By making sure people are aware of how those decisions will affect disabled people?

We have been voting ourselves better benefits than we have earned for decades and – sooner than later – that has got to stop.

On a micro scale; I'm sorry Mr Cowie that I was only able to pay income tax for 3 and a half years between starting work a week after finishing university in 2003 and becoming too ill to work at the end of 2006. No-one is sorrier than me because I miss the life I had back then. Having been on benefits now for 4 and a half years I've claimed back way more than I paid in. But that's the whole point of "national insurance". It's an insurance against life going tits up for you.

On a macro scale; Better benefits than we earn? Have you seen the rates of benefits? Imagine you became too ill to work. Permanently, not something that's only temporary until you have an operation. You apply for ESA and get turned down and shunted onto JSA. Could you, Mr Cowie, really live on £67.50 a week for life?

That’s how non-contributory democracy led to the credit crisis in a nutshell.

Really? As the "finance editor" for a national newspaper one would expect you to do a little more research than that, rather than just reading Iain Dickhead Smith's claims that benefit claimants caused the deficit. I think you'll find it was the bankers that crashed the economy and not us non-workers living on a pittance.

It’s time to restore the link between paying something into society and voting on decisions about how it is run.

No thanks Mr Cowie. I'd rather live in a country where the human right to be part of the decision-making process about what affects us is upheld. Even us filthy scum that can't pay income tax.


  1. Mod me if you want guys, I have to get this off my chest. Hopefully clicking "Post Comment" will be cathartic. I won't be offended if you can't post this.

    Ian Cowie, you are every bit as bad as the BNP leaders, who want to lock us all up in institutions away from "normal people". By voicing these beliefs you show that you want to make me invisible, to take away my humanity, my life. I don't want to know what you look like, because if I knew, and then I saw you in the street, I would probably kill you. Those who deny the humanity of others lose right to their own.

  2. I rather regard my skin, together with what it contains, as *being* the game... to borrow from Bladerunner, "I *am* the business". Many of us make contributions to society which cannot be measured in purely financial terms - should our voices not be heard?.


  3. I realise he's using a poker analogy of some kind, but it seems a bit ironic when you consider that people with money are the ones whose skin ISN'T in the game. Their income, on which they pay tax, insulates them from bad luck or the effects of a disability and can be staked. People, including disabled people and carers, on low or no income are the ones whose only stake IS their skin. Whose skin is really 'in the game' here?

  4. Arbeit Macht Frei, and all that, eh?

    This article's got me in tears. Some of my family were killed in the Holcaust, but I'm so glad my grandad (who escaped from the camp he was in) died last year, because something like this would've killed him.

    I hope this evil fascist also proposes taking the vote from bastards like Phillip Green et al., who squirrel their money away in offshore accounts.

  5. Completely and totally stark raving bonkers. So, the proposal is that nobody on a basic state pension is allowed to vote?

  6. @Anon:

    No, he wants to allow pensioners the vote "because of the fiscal contributions to society they are likely to have paid earlier".

  7. There's the small matter of the universal suffrage being a fundamental human right, too. I believe it is protected in law.

  8. I wrote quite a long post in a friend's blog this afternoon noting how repellent I found the parliamentary system in a series of SFnal novels, because it's deliberately set up to mirror the British parliament of 1800, including the tax requirement in the franchise. Turns out truth is stranger than fiction. If Ian Cowie wants to drag this aspect of the franchise back to 1800, then presumably he also wants to strip it from women, under 21s, and Catholics.

    >> That’s how non-contributory democracy led to the credit crisis in a nutshell. <<

    You would have thought having some vague concept of how the market works would be a necessary prerequisite to being finance editor of a broadsheet, apparently not.

    I'm normally loathe to throw 'fascist' around lightly, but it seems all too appropriate in this case!

  9. Alan B'Stard suggested something very similar in the Eighties.

  10. Sadly this stuff doesn't even surprise me anymore.

  11. >> there isn't some kind of low scum of non-workers out there who are fundamentally "not like you" <<

    We tend not to vote Tory, I think that's all the 'not like you' that matters to him.

    Mim mentioned Alan B'stard, who of course was a caricature of a Tory, but I was thinking about this last night, and people like Cowie, IDS, Freud, and Cameron actually are behaving like caricatures of Tories. Conservatism has never been a touchy-feely kind of movement, but the current crop seem to have more in common with B'Stard and Loadsamoney than with traditional grass roots conservatism. The Essex Boy market traders screwed up badly and nearly brought the banking system to a collapse, but it _can't_ be their fault, therefore it must be ours and we must be punished....

  12. @Jan your post was catharthic for me too lol.

  13. If your on this site then you should vote labour in 2015. I know that's a while away but its the only feasible party that can stop this rubbish