All Commentary
Sunday, October 1, 1995

The American Revolution Resurgent

Voting Is a Means, Not an End

Take a heavy dose of principle, add some solid economic reasoning and a scattering of historical examples, leaven it with some unconventional definitions, and you have The American Revolution Resurgent. This book clearly lays out the consequences of America’s jettisoning the constitutional republic the Founding Fathers bequeathed us in favor of majoritarianism. Its cogent suggestions as to how to return are unfortunately well ahead of their time.

Democracy has by and large degenerated into majorities voting themselves a share of the property of the minority. Raphael Kazmann redefines democracy as what a polity should be: one in which majority rule, constrained by morality and justice, is applied to solve those problems common to all members of society. Kazmann’s natural law approach to morality and justice draws from such diverse sources as Ayn Rand and the Bible. Government actions that we take for granted permit him to provide us with many examples of the consequences of failing to adhere to the natural law. Public schooling, progressive taxation, protectionism, Social Security, and foreign aid all come in for a drubbing. On progressive taxation, for instance, Kazmann observes: “The idea that taxation should be based on the `ability to pay’ can be paraphrased as `let’s have a gradation in robbery, those who are the richest shall be robbed the most, those who are less rich shall be robbed less, but no one who earns anything shall escape.”’

Nowhere does Kazmann go further against the grain of what currently passes for democracy than in questioning the desirability of the universal franchise. He illustrates, through the example of investment clubs, that where electoral majorities have no power to transgress the rights of minorities, those less qualified to make decisions are only too glad to leave that task to those better qualified. The key here is the pursuit of a common goal, rather than some factions seeking to gain at the expense of others which characterizes our actual political system.

He fleshes out this notion with a plan to restrict the franchise to that 60 percent of the population with the greatest Adjusted Gross Incomes. His presumption is that those who are running their own lives successfully, at least in this single dimension, are more likely to make correct decisions in the public arena. Those who would argue that this standard may be somewhat arbitrary would have a tough time convincing anyone that the current qualification for voting, i.e., to have been breathing for the last eighteen years, is not arbitrary.

He concludes the book with five general policy proposals: stabilizing the currency, abolishing all transfer payments, maintaining order, converting our current progressive income tax to a flat consumption tax, and permitting all voluntary exchanges.

Kazmann does not skimp on specifics to back up his general points. His discussion of the harm done by government water resource programs draws on his professional training as a hydrologist. His discussions of the German hyperinflation, Social Security, and the minimum wage are filled with relevant facts soundly interpreted.

All too many free market thinkers revere democratic capitalism in a manner which emphasizes the democratic part over the capitalism. The main contribution of this work is to place the mechanism of voting in its proper place as a means rather than an end. As Kazmann concludes, “It is not the organizational structure that determines whether or not a society will survive. It is the extent to which the organizational structure conforms to the natural laws that govern human societies.” []

In addition to editing the book review section of The Freeman, Dr. Batemarco is a marketing research project manager in New York City and teaches economics at Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York.