To kick-start the honest debate I thought I’d put some of the newcomers to this site to a brief test:
1. Which one of the following do you think is most important?
- Human Rights
- Low taxes
2. Hypothetically speaking, there are elections in your home country and there are two main leading parties, Party A and Party B.
Party A states that if it wins it will reduce taxes.
Party B states that if it wins it will raise taxes.
a. Who would you vote for Party A or Party B?
You then learn, after some investigation that:
Party A will reduce taxes but it will do so by initiating trade deals with some of the world’s worst dictators.
Party B will raise taxes but it will give all of the extra money to the poor in another country.
b. Who would you vote for now?
c. Who do you think the majority of fellow citizens would vote for?
I tried this test with a group of students of many different backgrounds and nationalities. The overwhelming majority admitted they would vote for Party A even after knowing that they would be encouraging relations with dictatorships. This was despite the fact that a majority of them considered ‘human rights’ and ‘freedom’ as most important.
In a sense, the low taxes in this test can be replaced with the concept of ‘self-interest’. The reality is that when people go to the ballot box, they aren’t really concerned with human rights or freedoms, the only thing that really matters is if the next government will be beneficial to them or not.
There is a possibility that people would be willing to sacrifice their interests and pay taxes for the poor in their own countries, but the harsh reality is that we are rarely willing to sacrifice for those in another country.
Is this ‘human rights’ or is it the rights of fellow nationals?
The second question to consider is that if we give absolute freedom to people how do people decide between right and wrong, or who to vote for or not? Self interest is an inevitable consequence of freedom. What’s worrying about this reality is that one man’s freedom is more often than not another man’s slavery. And one man’s gain is almost always another man’s loss. One country’s interest is not necessarily the interest of another. Are we to remain in this constant cycle of conflict stemming from a clash of self-interest?
There are obvious flaws with this model of democracy. Whilst many governments are claiming to spread democracy to the rest of the world and assuming that it is the best system for man, have we stopped considering the problems it brings?
If you’d like to be part of this debate, please write in to firstname.lastname@example.org All views are welcome so long as they comply with the rules stated in the About Honest Debate page.