A penny for your…vote?

Most people would be incensed if they found out that their city councilman or school board member voted in their political capacity to award a contract to a business in which they had a direct financial interest.

For example, if a school board member voted to award a cleaning contract to a cleaning business he owns, most people would instantly recognize this as a conflict of interest and cry foul. In his role as school board member, we expect him to act in the best interest of the school district patrons, not in his own best interest.

I find it equally outrageous that folks who receive direct money from government programs get to vote for political candidates. Why isn’t that considered a potential conflict of interest?

It seems very likely to me that instead of voting for the candidates best fit to carry out the duties and serve their roles they swear an oath to uphold, voters who receive government support may be inclined to vote for the candidates who promise to continue doling out goodies.

Don’t think so? Pay closer attention to campaigns and see how politicians tell voters they will continue to expand certain programs if elected. Why would they make such promises if it doesn’t get them votes.

I propose giving folks a simple choice. If you choose to receive direct government benefits, then you forego your vote.

Some will say that we should not be able to remove someone’s right to vote, but under this proposal “we” would not remove anybody’s right to vote.

It would be their choice. And it would resolve potential conflicts of interest that contribute to ever-expanding government spending.

5 thoughts on “A penny for your…vote?

  1. I understand your point and agree with the underlying sentiment. But, I think the “conflict of interest” argument is not the best approach. We all get something back from government, and many candidates even run on the promise of “bringing home the bacon.” Sticking with the conflict of interest argument opens you to attacks from liberals over things like school aid formula inequities and funds for things like highways, parks, so forth.

    Instead, I prefer the “share holder” argument. If you do not hold stock in a company, you have no say in their governance. Applied to government, this would preclude those who pay no taxes to the administrative entity from voting. So, if you pay no federal taxes, you can not vote for federal offices, but still would be eligible for state, county and municipal elections provided you paid the taxes levied by them.

    • That’s why I specified ‘direct’ benefits. That would be any program where you receive a direct transfer of money from taxpayers to you. Roads and parks and such, while benefits, are not a direct transfer.

  2. I have had similar thoughts about controlling self interest in government. I concluded that public employees should surrender the right to voted during their public service and that elected officials should not be paid for their service. Thus public employees could not vote themselves salary and benefit increases by electing one who will promise such and we would rid ourselves of career politicians and replace them with successful individuals, the majority of whom have been educated by the real world.


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